Hawaiians Are Crazy About Solar, not So Crazy About HECO

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A new poll commissioned by The Alliance for Solar Choice finds that that an overwhelming majority of Hawaii residents are pro-solar. A whopping 94% of Hawaiians support more rooftop solar, and 90% believe that Hawaiian Electric is slowing rooftop solar in the state.

The solar polls keep coming in, and over and over they’re finding the same thing: Americans love solar!

That’s no less true in Hawaii, a state that has been beset by issues as solar grid penetration in some areas has gotten as high as 10%.

 

The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC), which represents the majority of rooftop solar installations in the United States, including more than 7000 in Hawaii, has just announced the results of a new opinion poll there.

 

The poll reveals that an overwhelming majority of Hawaii residents are pro-solar. A whopping 94% of Hawaiians support more rooftop solar, and 90% believe that Hawaiian Electric (HECO) is slowing rooftop solar to protect its profits.

 

The poll also confirms that most residents of Hawaii are very familiar with rooftop solar. Not surprising in a state with so much solar, a third of respondents have family members with solar, and more than half have neighbors with solar. As TASC noted in their statement today, “Hawaii residents are accustomed to seeing rooftop solar in their communities, and they want to see even more of it in the future.”

 

The poll was conducted by Honolulu-based polling firm SMS and commissioned by TASC.

 

“While it should be a point of pride that Hawaii has the highest solar per capita in the country, it shouldn’t give us any reason to slow down,” said Jon Yoshimura, a Hawaii spokesperson for TASC, in today’s statement. “The people of Hawaii clearly want and expect more rooftop solar, and are looking to both HECO and to policymakers to advance policies that help increase access for homes and businesses.”

 

The poll also showed that Hawaii residents are motivated to go solar by more than just the cost savings. They are also interested in promoting energy independence for their state. That does have a relationship to costs — as respondents noted in the poll, oil dependence and lack of competition in the utility sector are top reasons for Hawaii’s high utility rates.

 

Also telling in the poll was the low opinion Hawaiians have of HECO. Less than half of those surveyed have a favorable opinion of HECO, while 95% have a favorable view of solar power companies. And this is without knowing the full extent of what’s happened with solar in the state. When respondents were informed that the number of solar permits on Oahu just hit a two-year low, half indicated that their opinion of HECO declined even further. As TASC concluded, “HECO’s public image is in danger if the utility continues to fall short of public expectations for rooftop solar.”

 

“I decided to go solar for environmental and financial reasons​. I was delayed for months–many peoples’ ​interconnection approvals are delayed for years by​ the utility as a stalling tactic,” said Nancy Robberson, a retired schoolteacher from Kula,​ Hawaii. “Hawaiian Electric and its subsidiaries should not get in the way of more solar here​. Harnessing the sun’s power should be an ​inalienable right for all.”