Hawaii Utility To Recover Overpayments; Customers To Benefit

Nov 5, 2019

A Hawaii solar farm has agreed to reduce an electric company's monthly bill by $15,000 to make up for overcharged power during a battery issue.

Lanai Sustainability Research overcharged Maui Electric Company $360,000 when its battery energy storage system was nonoperational, Maui News reported Monday.

Maui Electric purchased power from the facility through 2033, under a power purchase contract approved by the state Public Utilities Commission, officials said.

Both sides agreed that starting in October, $11,000 would account for the inoperable battery system until it is replaced and another $4,000 would make up overpayments until the amount is recovered, commission officials said.

Both parties believe the system was nonoperational from January 2017 to November 2018, officials said.

If the utility contract is terminated before the agreement is completed then Lanai Sustainability Research would have to pay the remaining balance in a lump sum payment within 30 days of termination, commission officials said.

The agreement would provide "an immediate bill reduction to customers on Lanai," said Sharon Suzuki, Maui Electric Company president. Electric bill reductions depend on how much electricity each customer uses.

The utility is working with the solar farm to determine what options would work best for the island, including "replacing the current Lanai Sustainability Research battery energy storage system or replacing the current LSR facility with a new facility," Suzuki said.

The utility could renegotiate the price if it replaces the battery system but would need agreement and approval from the solar farm and the commission, officials said. If all parties agree to replace the current facility with a new one, Lanai Sustainability Research must terminate the current agreement.