Residents can still install solar PV as well as energy efficienct appliances

Saturday, April 30, 2011 By Molokai Dispatch staff

Grid Not Closed

This is Sean Costello of Hawaii Energy Consultants, to encourage everyone to do their part with regards to renewable energy production.  I have had the pleasure of visiting Molokai once every two to three months since I moved to Oahu in May of 2008.  Since then Maui Electric Company (MECO) has closed the grid to new customer-sited distributed generation systems, otherwise known as DG, and specifically in the form of solar photovoltaic systems (PV), because 5 percent of the total installed generation capacity exists in the form of PV.

The DOE is looking into funding an island-wide interconnection requirement study (IRS), but there are quite a few things that can be done to get around the IRS.  I wanted everyone to know that this restriction only exists for systems larger than 1 kilowatt of alternating current output (1 kWAC).  This means that you can install up to about four to five modules up on your roof or in your yard without needing approval from MECO. Installing just one panel in a sunny spot can provide about 1 kWh of AC energy per day.  This may not sound like a lot, but if 1,000 people did this then that’s 1 MWh per day of electricity generation.  This would be about 2-5 percent of the daily energy needs of Molokai. Imagine if everyone did two to three panels (or even four or five!) what kind of energy generation could be provided locally!

Aren’t you sick of paying $5 a gallon for gasoline?  Get an electric bicycle or moped and cut your gasoline cost in half by fuelling with electricity.  Can’t figure out where all of your electricity consumption is going?  Get an eGauge.  Go to for more information.  This device allows you to see your whole house and appliance consumption broken down on the internet in real time.  I urge everyone to purchase at least one photovoltaic module.  Perhaps if we get enough people together we can fill up a whole container and get everyone a great price on a single module with a microinverter that can just wire directly into your distribution panel.  Let’s uncomplicate the renewable energy issue and get everyone doing it.

Mahalo for reading and I hope I have provided some valuable insight

Sean M. Costello, Mechanical Engineer and Professional Energy Consultant