How to Use the Solar Calculator
The best way to learn about local rebates, your home’s energy potential, and your eventual return on investment is to use our ModSun Solar Cost Calculator (see above). Enter your home address in the box, then click Check My Roof. You’ll get an instant picture of your roof’s productivity, your average energy expenses, and installation costs in your area—whether you decide to buy or loan. We’ll also provide system size recommendations and information about rebates and incentives you may be eligible for. Just select More Info under each purchasing strategy to learn more, and then connect with a solar pro.
Solar Power in Hawaii
Ka lâ i ka mauli ola, Hawaiian residents! Your state has a lot to offer, and we’re not just talking about your homeland’s rich cultural heritage. Hawaiian households can take advantage of high solar productivity levels, combined with generous and unique state programs and incentives that make solar power a smart decision in your area, both financially and in terms of saving energy use.
On top of the national incentives offered to all US homeowners, Hawaiian solar households can qualify for a statewide program that returns residents a portion of their system costs. Additionally, many utility providers throughout the state offer very competitive zero-interest loan programs or heavy incentives to mitigate the cost of solar water heaters. This guide will provide some insight into those programs, as well as detailing the history and attitude toward solar power in the area.
Solar Productivity in Hawaii
Hawaiian skies demonstrate massive solar potential—homes in Oahu, for instance, average around 6 sun hours per day, which is just slightly lower than some of the most productive areas in the continental US. That means homeowners opting to install solar arrays on their rooftops can take advantage of some seriously high production numbers, making solar power super profitable on the islands.
Solar Popularity in Hawaii
According to industry estimates, Hawaii has about 564 megawatts of solar capacity installed, ranking it eighth in the nation for solar power. About a fifth of those megawatts were put in just in 2015 alone, a trend that echoes installation numbers across the country, predicting a bright future for solar power in the state and the country at large.
Average Residential Electricity Use and Cost in Hawaii
As you probably know if you live in Hawaii, residents here pay a lot, to say the least, for their energy. Hawaiians energy bills average 33.2 cents per kilowatt—that’s well over twice the national average cost per capita. Even though Hawaiian households tend to use much less energy than the average US home, consuming a mere 2,126 kilowatt hours per capita compared to 4,566, considering the high productivity of this area, it stands to reason that Aloha State residents could save a lot just by installing their own PV system.
Installing Solar in Hawaii
Hawaii boosts some pretty high installation numbers—and a large fleet of contractors to match. In fact, an estimated 80 installers are scattered across the islands, with the majority located on Honolulu and Hawaii. That means homeowners here have plenty of options when deciding on an installer—not only a wide selection of local companies are available, large national chains like SolarCity have outposts here as well, allowing residents to take advantage of alternate buying strategies like power purchasing agreements.
Hawaii State Solar Support
Hawaii boasts an aggressive renewables standard, particularly when it comes to solar water heating—their renewables portfolio sets forth guidelines that 100 percent of Hawaii’s energy will be purchased from renewable sources by 2045, making it exceptionally progressive. And, in 2009, the state passed legislation requiring all new homes to come complete with a solar water heating system installed on the premises.
Meanwhile, they’ve also enacted some regulatory policies to make it safer and more convenient for homeowners to purchase and install solar power in their homes. Rigorous contractor licensing standards ensure that installers have passed state exams and have worked as a journeyman for several years. Additionally, homeowners right to install solar arrays on their property is protected by a solar rights provision that prohibits homeowner associations and local jurisdictions from creating regulations inhibiting such installations. Lastly, interconnection standards give installers guidance for connecting solar panels back to the grid, making sure the electrical connections and components are sound.
Regulation isn’t the only place where the Hawaiian government has acted with solar homeowners in mind, however. A variety of incentives exist—some of the most lucrative in the country—to make solar power and solar water heating more affordable for local residents.
Hawaii State Solar Incentives
Hawaii’s solar support translates to a variety of incentives that are available for homeowners installing PV arrays on their homes. Here’s a survey of the programs available in the area:
- Personal Solar and Wind Energy Credit: New solar installations in Hawaii are eligible for a credit, returned through income taxes. The rate is 35 percent for a single family home, or $5,000, whichever amount is lowest, and 35 percent for a multi-family property, or $350 per unit. Solar water heating systems also qualify for 35 percent of their system cost, or $2,250, whichever is less. For more information about the tax credit, visit the state’s tax program site.
- Net Metering: Like most states in the US, residents in Hawaii can take advantage of net metering, an incentive that allows solar homeowners to credit their energy generation against their use. The maximum capacity varies from between 50 to 100 kilowatts, depending on the local utility. Unlike in some other states, however, it doesn’t exactly pay to generate excess electricity—net excess hours can only be carried over for 12 months in Hawaii, and after that, they are surrendered to the utility.
- Feed-in Tariffs: In 2008, Hawaii established a feed-in tariff scheme that pays solar residents $0.218 per generated kilowatt hour, for systems sized 20 kW or smaller, making solar power even more viable throughout the state.
Like all US residents, however, Hawaiian solar homes are eligible for the federal government’s Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit. This incentive pays residents 30 percent of the system costs for solar installations, as long as the system is large enough to provide at least 50 of the home’s energy needs. To find out if your home qualifies, complete form form 5965 along with your income taxes.
Hawaii Local Solar Incentives
While many of Hawaii’s incentives are offered to residents equally across the board, there are a few options that differ depending upon the home’s location and electricity provider. Here is a sampling of the local programs available:
- Maui Solar Rooftops Initiative: Maui Electric customers with 12 months of good consumer history are eligible for a 35 percent incentive when they purchase a solar water heater for their Maui home.
- Kauai Solar Water Heating Loan Program: Kauai Island Utility Cooperative customers can participate in the provider’s zero-interest loans for solar water heaters. The only stipulation is that residents must pay back the loan within 60 months.
- Honolulu Solar Loan Program: Residents in the city and county of Honolulu may be eligible for a zero percent interest loan for both solar water heating systems and solar PV arrays. There is a 20 year term for each loan. Loan amounts over $10,000 require a lien on the homeowner’s mortgage. The program’s website is available here.
- Honolulu Property Tax Exemption: Residents in the city and county of Honolulu are also eligible for a property tax exemption for alternative energy systems. The exemption lasts for 25 years, and includes solar PV arrays installed on residential homes. Apply for the exemption by completing one of the available forms here.
- Hawaii Energy Solar Water Heater Rebates and Loan Program: Customers in Hawaii purchasing a solar water heater directly are eligible for a $750 rebate against the cost of the appliance. Residents who need to purchase a system on credit can apply for a zero percent interest loan program through the utility. Information about both programs is available here.