A reader wrote to ask:
My husband and I just returned from our visit to Maui. We have been tossing the idea about of just moving there. We live in Northern CA where it reaches above the 100 mark. It was warmer this visit, but not unbearable….we had left where it was up to 102+. Although there are some costs that are not real out of the ordinary, the electric is three times what we pay here. My question to you is…..if you have the solar or photo-voltaric (sp?) what would the average cost be for an average 1200 sq ft home in upcountry or kihei? Thank you 🙂
Answer: If you follow this blog, you know that we had a photovoltaic system put on our roof at the end of last year. On the news yesterday they said we have had over 90° heat for 15 out of the last 17 days in Hawaii. And for the first time in many years, I feel like I can run the air conditioning. (Thank goodness, because otherwise I would be Miss Crankypants that no one would want to live with.) Before the photovoltaic, our electric bills were running almost $400 per month, and that puts a dent in anyone’s budget. (We just didn’t run the air conditioner.) Add to that the high cost of food, the high cost of gasoline, and the high cost of housing, and living in Maui can become a luxury that many people decide they can’t afford.
As far as the cost for the system, loans are available. They charge by the panel, based on your electrical useage. Our home needed 19 panels, at $1,000. per panel. Our friends, who have two small houses on their property plus an art studio, paid $36,000 for their photovoltaic system.
But here’s the caveat: even with the state and federal tax breaks, it takes 3 to 5 years to break even. So our bill has dropped to between $18 and $30 per month, and our friend’s base rate is $36 per month. This is supposed to be the rate to “tie-in” to the system.
BUT, and this is a large but: Hawaiian Electric Company on Oahu has seen their intake drop dramatically due to homeowners putting in these systems. They are now asking for a rate hike to a minimum of $50 per household, even for those with a photovoltaic system. So essentially, private homeowners are funding their own electricity, and now the electric companies want a piece of that.
How long can it be before Maui Electric company follows suit?
Also, you are fortunate if our electric rate (killowatt per hour) is only three times higher than what you pay. Where I came from, Maui was five times higher. Living in Kihei is hotter than Upcountry. But the higher you go up Haleakala mountain, the colder it gets…
and then you end up figuring out how to HEAT it. There is no natural gas on Maui.
For those planning to move to Maui and rent, ask about the electricity costs, if it is not included in the rent, because you are definitely going to want to budget for it. I make it a practice to ask to see the electricity bills when I buy a house, too.
Thanks for the question, and thank you for reading along!
A hui hou. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage, or to the right.