- Associated Press - Sunday, November 27, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - Demand is up for Hawaiian Electric Co.’s only solar rooftop program for homeowners.

By mid-November, 322 applications had been filed for the self-supply program that allows homeowners with rooftop solar panels to draw power from the grid, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (https://bit.ly/2fTJDSv).

Six months ago, almost no applications were filed.

“We expect it will continue to grow,” said Darren Pai, the company’s spokesman. “This is still a relatively young program that customers are becoming more aware of.”

Public utilities commissioners established the self-supply program in October 2015.

Most of these systems come with batteries for residents to store power that can be used at night or on cloudy days.

The utility no longer allows rooftop solar customers to send excess power to the grid.

Hawaiian Electric was paying these customers full retail rates for their extra electricity.

The solar industry has reported lost jobs, fewer building permits and one company’s closure.

State Public Utilities Commission Chairman Randy Iwase said it’s too early to tell whether the increased interest in the self-supply program will help the solar industry.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, https://www.staradvertiser.com

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