Thinking about PV? Talk to KIUC First
There’s a boom in solar photovoltaic construction on Kauaʻi that’s helping residents and businesses save money while contributing to our efforts to generate more power with renewable energy.
But in the rush to sell PV systems, some contractors are skipping over the important first step. Before installing a system, rules established by the Hawaiʻi Public Utilities Commission require customers to submit an interconnection request application to KIUC for an engineering review.
This step is extremely important and ensures that the PV system can be safely and reliably tied into the utility grid. This step also allows us to tell you whether you will have to pay any interconnection costs, as well as whether you may be able to reduce your costs.
For example, a large PV system may require us to replace an existing transformer with a larger one to handle the increase in power that will run through it. Depending on the distance to the nearest transformer pole, the costs charged to the customer could be $10,000 or more.
If you talk to us first, we can suggest options, like changing the size of your system so a transformer upgrade isn’t necessary.
A PV system is a large, long-term financial investment and it’s important to understand your options and obligations before deciding.
If you plan to oversize your system so you can sell the excess power to KIUC, you should also know there’s a limit to how much PV our system can take. So there’s no guarantee that we’ll always be able to buy all of your power. And under the program known as Schedule Q, the price we pay for your power will vary and may drop significantly as more renewables come online.
So before your contractor starts work, make sure they’ve submitted your interconnection request application to KIUC and that the engineering review has been completed.
And make sure you understand the rules for selling your excess power.
Download the interconnection process and application packet and the rules governing interconnection in Tariff No. 2 – Distributed Generation – Interconnection Policies and Procedures.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’ve decided to put in a PV system. What is the first step?
Download an interconnection request application and read the rules governing interconnection in Tariff No. 2 – Distributed Generation – Interconnection Policies and Procedures.
If your system is going to be 10kW or less, which is the case with most residential systems, look for Tariff No. 2, Attachment 5. If your system is greater than 10kW, look for Tariff No. 2, Attachment 2. Applications are also available at our office.
Why do I need to submit an application?
The Hawai‘i Public Utilities Commission requires customers to submit an application to KIUC for an engineering review. This step is extremely important and ensures that the PV system can be safely and reliably tied into the utility grid. This step also allows us to tell you whether you will have to pay any interconnection costs. For example, the size of your system may require us to install a larger transformer. The engineering review will describe the interconnection costs, if any, and we can recommend ways to reduce your costs by changing the size of your proposed system.
How much does the application cost?
Most residential systems are below 10kW so there’s no cost for the application. There is a $100 non-refundable processing fee if the interconnection request is for a system greater than 10kW.
How long does the application process take?
For systems producing less than 10 kW, which are most residential systems, KIUC will acknowledge receipt of the application within five business days. KIUC will then evaluate the application and will notify you within 15 days of the receipt of the application whether additional information is needed or if the application is complete.
For systems larger than 10 kW, KIUC has 20 business days to acknowledge receipt of the application. KIUC then has 30 business days to review the application. If the application is approved, KIUC will send an interconnection agreement and the customer has 30 business days to sign and return the agreement. If the application is not approved, KIUC has 10 business days to schedule a meeting with the customer to discuss their options.
What is Schedule Q?
Schedule Q is the program by which KIUC pays you for the excess power you generate. The rate changes monthly and it reflects the amount KIUC would have had to pay to generate the power if we didn’t buy it from you. Because KIUC generates most of its electricity by burning oil, this so-called “avoided cost” calculation is tied to the price of oil. As more renewables come on line and KIUC burns less oil, the amount paid under Schedule Q is expected to drop.
What is NEM Pilot?
NEM stands for Net Energy Metering. Under this pilot program, KIUC purchases excess power from you at a fixed rate with fixed terms – 20 cents per kilowatt hour for 20 years. This program is fully subscribed.
Will KIUC always buy the extra energy my PV produces?
There’s a limit to how much PV our system can take. On a sunny afternoon when all of the PV systems on the island are at their maximum output, there may be more power being generated than there is demand. So there may be times when our system won’t accept all of the solar power available. That’s known as curtailment.
Do you have any suggestions on who I should select to install my PV?
It’s up to you. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations. Call around and get several bids before deciding.
If I have additional questions regarding the interconnection process, who do I call?
Please call 246.4300. And you can always email email@example.com.