While we were in Hawaii we flirted with the idea of buying a second home, maybe a condo on the Big Island. In the real estate ads we noted several references to properties that had photovoltaic panels.
Later over dinner with friends of ours who live on the Big Island we asked about the prevalence of solar panels. They revealed that their electric bills were extremely high; averaging around $600 per month. This last Christmas when he had holiday lights on their house, the electric bill rose to $800. Homes in Hawaii generally do not require heat or air conditioning, so we are talking about just powering lights, refrigeration and hot water.
Hawaiians who can afford it have been availing themselves of State and Federal energy programs to subsidize installation of solar panels and photovoltaic panels on their homes. Another person we were talking with revealed that his photovoltaic conversion cost $47,000 a third, of which, was his cost after government subsidies. At these electric rates, he expected his photovoltaic installation to pay for itself in reduced electric bills in roughly five years.
As chance would have it, the very day following our conversation, an article appeared in the West Hawaii Today newspaper detailing that, due to the increase in home photovoltaic panel installations, Hawaiian Electric Co. has lost significant revenue. As a result, the HEC would be raising it’s rates to make up for the loss in revenue. In other words, sell less electricity at higher cost. Renewable energy, it seems, is bad for business and the rate payer is expected to pick up the tab.
As I outlined in my two previous posts, the trend is clear: Corporate America will continue to find ways to suck more of our individual income and give us less in return.
“Hawaii solar savings spark higher electric bills”, West Hawaii Today, Feb.6, 2012.