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Hawaii doubles solar installations

Hawaii, United States — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 23 February 2011 – While romantic Hawaii is known world-wide for the effort its puts into making its many foreign visitors happy, it has also pleased its own residents through introducing them to the benefits of solar power.
Photovoltaic solar installations by Hawaii residents increased almost 100% in 2010 over 2009, according to the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO). A total of 3 967 solar power systems were connected to the HECO grid on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island, compared to 1 916 installations in 2009. They added 13MW of capacity to the grid.

“This will help all of us in Hawaii as we continue to make progress in cutting our dependence on imported oil,” said HECO executive vice president Robbie Alm in a statement.

According to analysts, the totals include systems that have Net Energy Metering (NEM) agreements and systems with standard interconnection agreements. NEM agreements give customers the ability to receive full retail credit on their electric bills for the excess electricity generated from their solar systems, while standard agreements generate power solely for a customer’s use and do not supply the electrical grid.

Another reason for the tremendous increase in solar installations in Hawaii is that up to 65% of a solar installation’s cost can be covered by a combination of aggressive Hawaii state rebates and federal tax incentives.

On top of this, Hawaiians pay, on average $0.285 per kilowatt hour as most of the state’s electricity is produced by petroleum-burning generators. This is extremely high as compared to the rest of the country and as the price of oil fluctuates, so does the price for electricity in Hawaii. As a result, there is strong statewide incentive to switch to a different power source.

Of course, Hawaii has no shortage of sun. The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative found that 70% of Hawaii’s energy could come from clean sources by 2030.

Hawaii is also one the American leaders in solar water heaters, as one in four single-family homes have them. Increasing the adoption of solar energy in Hawaii makes sense not only economically but environmentally, as it helps preserve the country’s most beautiful spots and serves as an example for responsible energy production no matter how small the state.