Hawaii's utility is leading the nation by planning for increased solar on the grid, rather than holding back expansion as other utilities do.

Hawaiian Electric announced a "Proactive Approach" where it will take the initiative to determine how continued growth in rooftop solar may affect the utility circuits, and how the grid needs to be upgraded to enable further expansion.

"Few, if any, utilities in the country have taken such a progressive stance on this issue, and this program will position Hawaii as the nation's leader in the integration of small-scale solar resources," says attorney Tim Lindl of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

In contrast, utilities often take an "unwelcoming approach," advocates say. They come up with conservative estimates on how much renewable energy can be fed into local circuits (generally 15% of peak load) and limit connections to that. That means if there are more people who want to add solar (or wind) beyond those levels, utilities require them to pay for  costly, time-consuming studies of the potential impacts on their circuits.

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