Since the ending of the Net Metering and the Customer Grid Supply (CGS) programs, many people are asking if it is still worth it to install Solar in Hawaii? The short answer is an absolute, yes. Hawaii has some of the highest solar irradiance in the nation coupled with the highest electricity rates. These two facts have not changed. The Customer Self Supply (CSS) is still open and the added cost, with installation, of two batteries for the majority of home owners is only $10,000 on average. If you account for the maximum tax incentives, it's only about $4,000 additional. Meanwhile, the price of solar equipment, continues to steadily decline. Because of this, the price of Solar PV today, is very similar to what the price of solar was, 3-5 years ago. It was financially savvy then, just as it is now. The only difference, is that now you can get the added benefit of backing up your critical power circuits, in the event of a power outage. In addition to this, there are some circumstances where a battery will not be needed, in which case, your payback period will be reduced even further.
Right now the average price of Solar PV system, with batteries, from Pacific Energy, is about $5,000 per kilowatt. (as of January 2017). For larger sytems, the price is lower. Using a 4% national average increase in rates, per year, a 10kw Solar PV system would save about $230,000 over 30 years. Since we know the price of energy is at a historic low and the rate of increase for Hawaii has actually been closer to 7%, that 30 year savings number could actually be closer to $500,000. Even if you finance your Solar System, it changes the numbers very little.
The prices vary depending on the quality of the modules and where they are manufactured and by whom. Pacific Energy tends to use the higher quality US made, 60 cell monocrystalline modules, from companies such as SolarWorld. However, the Solar panels are just one small part of the system, but it is the part that everyone sees. Of course, there is markup, labor & taxes, plus a whole lot of other equipment, such as mounts, racking, inverters, optimizers, the battery and small miscellaneous items.
Some people ask us about very high wattage 350+ watt modules. These are much larger 72 cell modules. These modules are created with all of the lower outputing cells that didn't "make the cut" for use in the 60 cell modules. They are big, heavy and produce less energy per square foot, although they are cheaper per watt. The labor to install them is higher, because of their size and weight. We very rarely suggest to use 72 cell panels, except in rare circumstances, such as in off-grid, ground mount arrays, where space and weight is not an issue.