Shared Solar 101
by Hawaii Powered | March 11, 2022
Shared solar — also known as community-based renewable energy (CBRE) — is an important part of our path to a Hawai’i Powered future. This program makes it possible for more customers to benefit from clean energy generation in their neighborhoods.
But what exactly is shared solar? How do community members participate? And what is Hawaiian Electric doing to encourage more of it? Today, we’re diving into these and other frequently asked questions we hear about our shared solar program.
What is shared solar?
Watch the overview video below, then scroll down for more information.
Shared solar, the second phase of community-based renewable energy (CBRE) projects, allows customers who cannot or choose not to install private rooftop solar systems to subscribe to a local, renewable energy facility. A shared solar project starts with an organization proposing to build a solar facility. These organizations can be a club, neighborhood association, church, charitable organization or companies that develop solar facilities. The organization will then undergo an evaluation process for its proposed project. The evaluation process for larger projects takes into consideration many factors, including community input, other land uses and cultural resources. If approved, the organization will build the shared solar facility. A shared solar facility looks like any other solar array, but instead of one owner, many people and groups participate in, or “subscribe” to the facility. We particularly want shared solar to be available to customers with low-to-moderate incomes and organizations and small businesses that can’t install a private rooftop solar system.
What are subscriber organizations, and what are the benefits of subscribing?
When projects are approved, customers will be able to sign up with a “subscriber organization” to benefit from electricity generated from a local shared solar facility. A subscriber organization may be the same organization that built the solar facility, but it can also be a different organization that assumes responsibility for operating and maintaining the facility once it is built. Electricity from a shared solar facility goes into the grid on that island and is distributed to all customers. Subscribers get credit to reduce their existing electric bill based on how much electricity the facility generates. So, customers who belong to a subscriber organization with a solar facility on their island will save money and help move Hawaii closer to 100% clean energy.
What is Hawaiian Electric doing to make shared solar possible?
Hawaiian Electric expects to launch the shared solar program by mid-March 2022. We hope to attract subscriber organizations and anchor tenants, and will host virtual presentations geared toward nonprofits, churches, homeowner associations and other groups that could benefit from shared solar. For more information go to hawaiianelectric.com/sharedsolar.
What is the evaluation process like for selecting larger shared solar projects?
Hawaiian Electric reviews all proposed shared solar projects according to evaluation criteria approved by the Public Utilities Commission. The projects also are evaluated by an independent observer. The evaluation criteria include:
- Community input — To understand how the project would affect people who live close by, and what the community’s needs and priorities are.
- Price — To verify how much it will cost to build and operate, and how this will this affect customer rates.
- Land use — To review how much land is available for energy projects, versus other needs like agriculture and housing.
- Cultural resources — To identify if the proposed project would affect cultural and historical resources, and to develop mitigation plans, if needed.
Where can I learn more about shared solar projects?
- For the latest shared solar news and more information, visit hawaiianelectric.com/sharedsolar.
- You check your eligibility and find shared solar projects that best meet your needs at communityenergyhawaii.com. Potential subscribers cannot sign up until projects are approved and available.
- Check out our guide for developing smaller shared solar projects here.
Learn more about Hawaii Powered and our clean energy future at www.hawaiipowered.com.