February 5, 2018, by Frank Andorka
Last year, the number of solar+storage permits granted by Honolulu city and county increased to 731, a startling increase from the 40 the city granted in 2016.
It’s safe to say battery storage has come to Hawaii after Honolulu County experienced a record-shattering year in issuing permits for solar+storage permits for homeowners and businesses alike.
According to a report by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), the state capital issued 731 permits for solar+storage projects which, given the county’s population of nearly 908,000 may not seem like much – until you realize the permitting office provided a total of 40 permits in 2016.
While the number of permits issued started off slowly, a sharp spike started in May once the city and county streamlined the application and approval process.
The data also shows that homeowners who installed PV+batteries at the same time – as opposed to installing them separately or adding batteries to an existing system – saved more than $7,700.
Only seven of the permits were issued to commercial PV installations, indicating a potential growth market for solar installers in a state where residential solar penetration may be close to reaching saturation.
The sharp rise in permits issued for solar+storage comes as the state legislature is trying – again – to pass a bill (SB 2016) for energy storage installations. Introduced in early January, the bill, introduced Tuesday, would allow Hawaiian residents to claim an income tax credit in the year they installed the system on the following schedule:
- 30% if the system is first placed in service after June 30, 2018, and before January 1, 2020;
- 26% if the system was first placed in service after December 31, 2019, and before January 1, 2021;
- 22% if the system is first placed in service after December 31, 2020, and before January 1, 2022; and
- 10% if the system is first placed in service after December 31, 2021.
Unfortunately, two previous attempts to pass incentives have failed. In 2016, a bill that would have provided state-sponsored rebates for energy-storage systems failed, and a 2017 bill to provide customers with state-provided loans for energy-storage systems also didn’t make it out of committee.
SB 2016 has been introduced and has passed its first reading.