Hawaii homeowners can tap smart solar home program

Hawaii homeowners can tap smart solar home program

Photo via ShutterStock.

SolarCity launched a Smart Energy Home offering for new residential customers in Hawaii designed for the state's unique environment

The system includes smart home and advanced technology: solar PV, battery storage, smart electric water heaters and the Nest Learning Thermostat. The technology is coordinated by a home gateway that controls the battery, water heater, thermostat and inverter to maximize solar PV generation and self-consumption.

SolarCity’s smart energy home management system combines solar with batteries to store excess electricity generated from the solar power system during the day, then deliver it to the home at night. The dynamically controlled smart electric water heater uses solar PV to heat water during the day and store it for later use in the home.

Altogether, the Smart Energy Home uses the battery, smart electric water heater and controllable Nest Learning Thermostat  to automatically modify energy usage based on how much solar power is available to prevent energy from being exported back to the grid.

System size, as well as the combination of technology and number of batteries, will vary based on customers’ individual energy usage. The Smart Energy Home offer is available by lease and by cash purchase.
GreenTech Media reported on the changes in Hawaii's energy policy that ended net energy metering in the state.

Late last year, Hawaii's Public Utilities Commission issued a ruling (PDF) that ended net energy metering (NEM) as we know it on the Hawaiian islands. Hawaii's NEM program had proven to be too successful. Although it created a strong solar industry, the deep penetration of solar on the utility's distribution grid forced Hawaiian Electric (HECO) and the PUC to react.

Hawaii's new distributed solar tariff offers the option of Customer Grid-Supply (CGS), which credits surplus power provided to the utility at roughly half of the retail rate (for the next two years). The CGS program is capped at 25 megawatts for Oahu and 5 megawatts for both Maui and the Big Island.

The Customer Self-Supply (CSS) tariff allows only for inadvertent export to the grid (at zero compensation) -- so SolarCity's combination of solar, batteries, a smart electric water heater and a Nest thermostat must allow the system to store power when abundant and then deliver it to the home at night or to precool the house during the day. The system relieves some of the duck-curve pressure faced by the utility. Intelligently aggregated, the storage and water heaters can help contribute to balancing the grid.

Of course, the system provides emergency backup power for customers on the sensitive island grid.

Read more about home solar power.

Topics: Connected Homes / Smart Homes, Going Green, Photovoltaic / Solar Panels, Solar Power

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