Moloka’i Energy Efficiency Incentives and Rebates
By Mark Becker
Hawaii is unique with its legends surrounding the sun. The demigod “Maui” is said to have lassoed the sun in order to slow it down and make the days longer on the islands. Hawaii is unique in other ways as well; it has the highest electric rates in the nation. To add insult to injury, Molokai’s electric rates are among the highest in Hawaii. Large amounts of solar radiation coupled with large electric bills make Molokai one of the most suitable places on earth for solar electric and solar thermal systems.
Solar electric photovoltaic power (PV) and solar thermal power are proven technologies capable of efficiently harnessing power from the sun.
There are local loan programs, utility rebate programs, and state and federal tax credit programs that reduce the cost of energy efficiency improvements. Grants are available for businesses and agriculture as well.
Take advantage of them!
– The federal government offers a 30 percent tax credit for PV and thermal (no limit), and a 35 percent state tax credit with a max $5000 for PV, $2250 for solar thermal.
– MECO credits you excess power from solar PV for up to a year, called net metering, available on a “first-come, first-served” basis to customers that generate electricity using solar PV power. Unfortunately, Kaunakakai has been removed from this program. According to MECO, this is due to “saturation of the grid” and “quality of power” issues. Molokai residents still have time to install solar PV, but this window of opportunity may be closing (hopefully temporarily) as more systems are installed. MECO may reinstate the approval of solar PV in affected areas if studies prove that power quality remains at their high standard.
– A new program, know as the production incentive, allows qualified customers to receive a fixed rate per kWh for power produced from solar PV over a 20-year contract. Yes, you will be able to sell excess power back to the utility!
– MECO also offers a residential program for solar water heater rebates up to $750. As of January 1, 2010, this rebate is not available for systems installed on new residential construction because new building codes require installation of solar thermal systems. Their solar thermal loan program offers a $1,000 rebate for installations. Residential homeowners with existing electric water heaters are eligible and must provide a down payment equal to 35 percent of the system cost. Loan payments are based on expected monthly savings. Following the average down payment of $1,650, you will not incur any additional costs. Once the loan is paid, the average family will be saving $600 annually.
– MECO has an “electric car-charging rate,” currently 50-75 percent less than average electric rates. Why buy gas when you can “refill” your car for less than $5.00? Of course, when you purchase an electric vehicle, utilize the Federal tax credit! ($2250 to $7500). And virtually all energy star appliances qualify for a $50-$75 utility rebate.
In summary, there are quite a few large rebates/credits you can receive for solar thermal and solar PV. Non-residents do qualify for the Hawaii state tax credit for PV and solar thermal. One area of improvement would be for Molokai to have a property tax exemption for energy efficient improvements as Honolulu does. This is a good question to pose to your elected representatives.
For credits and rebates: www.dsireusa.gov
For other energy savings measures: www.hawaiienergy.com
For a solar PV or solar thermal estimate: www.HawaiiSPS.com
About the author: Mark Becker is a general contractor/solar consultant and consumer advocate. Mark@HawaiiSPS.com