Preceding the opening of the 2017 Hawaii Legislature on Wednesday, January 18, the Hawaii Energy Policy Forum will be holding its annual legislative briefing tomorrow, January 12, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. with the theme, "Finding Continuity: Whatever Happened To . . . ?"
The keynote speaker will be Gavin Bade, the Washington, D.C. based Editor of Utility Dive. Utility Dive describes itself as a provider of news and analysis for energy and utility executives covering topics like energy technology and trends, regulation, policy and politics. He has been asked to give an analysis of the national energy situation under a new administration and what bodes for Hawaii.
Mr. Bade was a speaker/participant in the 2016 Maui Energy Conference and he and other Utility Dive writers have been providing thoughtful and thorough analysis on Hawaii's clean energy quest. In yesterday's Utility Dive, Mr. Bade writes about Kauai Island Utility Cooperative's (KIUC) signed deal with AES Corporation for a dispatchable solar/storage project at 11 cents/kWh.
In the Hawaii energy realm, a big topic as the 2017 legislature opens will be energy storage. Solar installers will be lobbying lawmakers for energy storage tax credit primarily for systems sited with residential rooftop solar systems. Recently, the Department of Taxation released its 2016 annual report on tax credits for the Tax Year 2014. In their best estimates, $112,130,000.00 was paid out in Renewable Energy Income Tax Credit (REITC), comprising 35.2% of all tax credits paid. It is likely that the same taxpayers that benefited from the REITC will be the same taxpayers to benefit from an energy storage tax credit.
While the Honolulu Star-Advertiser continually laments about the collapsing numbers of new solar installation, when will lawmakers stop and think about Hawaii residents who are not benefiting from our current clean energy policies but are subsidizing, through electricity rates and tax credits paid out of the States general fund these largely out of state corporate solar entities who are installing systems that are producing electricity when there is no demand?
On Kauai, KIUC negotiated deals, with no state subsidies, to buy electricity a lower cost through dispatchable solar/storage contracts to benefit its operating system and entire customer base lowering cost. On the other hand, for the rest of the State, solar companies will be showing up at the Legislature to ask for more handouts just to give more benefits to the individuals who already have benefited from lucrative and highly subsidized policies like net energy metering and the renewable energy income tax credit and then forcing the Hawaiian Electric Companies to buy back electricity at present high and uncompetitive rates adversely affecting its customers without rooftop solar.
We are way beyond the need for renewable energy generation policies to develop and subsidize nascent concepts and technologies - it time to move on and to ensure that public and ratepayer monies are used to make the critical investments for a robust electricity grid/platform to advance the public good and not step into areas where competitive markets should be established.