您现在的位置: 纽约时报中英文网 >> 纽约时报中英文版 >> 商业 >> 正文


更新时间:2015-4-21 8:50:27 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Solar Power Battle Puts Hawaii at Forefront of Worldwide Changes

HONOLULU — Allan Akamine has looked all around the winding, palm tree-lined cul-de-sacs of his suburban neighborhood in Miliani here on Oahu and, with an equal mix of frustration and bemusement, seen roof after roof bearing solar panels.

檀香山——在这个位于欧胡岛米里拉尼郊区的社区中布满棕榈树的蜿蜒死胡同里,艾伦·阿卡米那(Allan Akamine)环顾四周,看到一个又一个装着太阳能组件的屋顶,眼中透露出些许失望、些许困惑。

Akamine, 61, a manager for a cable company, has wanted nothing more than to lower his $600 to $700 monthly electric bill with a solar system of his own. But for 18 months or so, the state's biggest utility barred him and thousands of other customers from getting one, citing concerns that power generated by rooftop systems was overwhelming its ability to handle it.


Only under strict orders from state energy officials did the utility, the Hawaiian Electric Company, recently rush to approve the lengthy backlog of solar applications, including Akamine's.

只有在州能源官员的严令之下,夏威夷电力公司(Hawaiian Electric Company)才于最近匆匆批准了长期积压的太阳能系统使用申请,其中就包括阿卡米那一份。

It is the latest chapter in a closely watched battle that has put this state at the forefront of a global upheaval in the power business. Rooftop systems now sit atop roughly 12 percent of Hawaii's homes, according to the federal Energy Information Administration, by far the highest proportion in the nation.

这是一场受到密切关注的斗争的最新进展,这场斗争将该州置于全球电力领域剧变的前沿。据美国能源信息署(Energy Information Administration)透露,大约12%的夏威夷住户装有屋顶太阳能发电系统,这是到目前为止美国太阳能系统安装比率最高的地区,远超其他州。

“Hawaii is a postcard from the future,” said Adam Browning, executive director of Vote Solar, a policy and advocacy group based in California.

总部位于加利福尼亚的政策及宣传组织“力挺太阳能”(Vote Solar)的执行理事亚当·布朗宁(Adam Browning)说,“夏威夷是一张来自未来的明信片。”

Other states and countries, including California, Arizona, Japan and Germany, are struggling to adapt to the growing popularity of making electricity at home, which puts new pressures on old infrastructure like circuits and power lines and cuts into electric company revenue.


As a result, many utilities are trying desperately to stem the rise of solar, either by reducing incentives, adding steep fees or effectively pushing home solar companies out of the market. In response, those solar companies are fighting back through regulators, lawmakers and the courts.


The shift in the electric business is no less profound than those that upended the telecommunications and cable industries in recent decades. It is already remaking the relationship between power companies and the public while raising questions about how to pay for maintaining and operating the nation's grid.


The issue is not merely academic, electrical engineers say.


In solar-rich areas of California and Arizona, as well as in Hawaii, all that solar-generated electricity flowing out of houses and into a power grid designed to carry it in the other direction has caused unanticipated voltage fluctuations that can overload circuits, burn lines and lead to brownouts or blackouts.


“Hawaii's case is not isolated,” said Massoud Amin, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Minnesota and chairman of the smart grid program at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a technical association. “When we push year on year 30 to 40 percent growth in this market, with the number of installations doubling, quickly — every two years or so — there's going to be problems.”

“夏威夷的情况并不是孤立的,”明尼苏达州大学(University of Minnesota)电气工程及计算机工程教授、电气电子工程师学会(Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)智能电网项目负责人马苏德·阿明(Massoud Amin)说。“当我们推动这个市场每年增长30%至40%,每两年安装数量迅速翻倍时,就会出现问题。”

The economic threat also has electric companies on edge. Overall, demand for electricity is softening while home solar is rapidly spreading across the country. There are now about 600,000 installed systems, and the number is expected to reach 3.3 million by 2020, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

这种经济风险也让电力公司感到不安。总的来说,在家用太阳能系统在全国范围能迅速流行的时候,电力需求有所减缓。据太阳能行业协会(Solar Energy Industries Association)透露,目前已经安装的太阳能系统达到了60万个,这个数字有望在2020年达到330万。

In Hawaii, the current battle began in 2013, when Hawaiian Electric started barring installations of residential solar systems in certain areas. It was an abrupt move — a panicked one, critics say — made after the utility became alarmed by the technical and financial challenges of all those homes suddenly making their own electricity.


The utility wants to cut roughly in half the amount it pays customers for solar electricity they send back to the grid. But after a study showed that with some upgrades the system could handle much more solar than the company had assumed, the state's public utilities commission ordered the utility to begin installations or prove why it could not.


It was but one sign of the agency's growing impatience with what it considers the utility's failure to adapt its business model to the changing market.


Hawaiian Electric is scrambling to accede to that demand, approving thousands of applications in recent weeks. But it is under pressure on other fronts as well. NextEra Energy, based in Florida, is awaiting approval to buy it, while other islands it serves are exploring defecting to form their own cooperative power companies.

夏威夷电力公司正在匆忙行动,来适应相关需求,在最近几周通过了数千份申请。但该公司在其他方面也面临压力。总部位于佛罗里达州的NextEra能源公司(NextEra Energy)正在等待收购该公司的计划获得通过,而其他接收该公司电力服务的岛屿正在寻求自立,创设自己的电力合作公司。

Installers — who saw their fast-growing businesses slow to a trickle — are also frustrated with the pace. For those who can afford it, said James Whitcomb, chief executive of Haleakala Solar, which he started in 1977, the answer may lie in a more radical solution: Avoid the utility and its grid altogether.

安装公司看到快速增加的业务逐渐放缓,也对进度感到不满。哈雷阿卡拉太阳能公司(Haleakala Solar)首席执行官詹姆斯·惠特科姆(James Whitcomb)表示,对于那些能够负担得起的人来说,可能有一个比较激进的解决方案:避开这家电力公司和它的电网。惠特科姆在1977年创立了哈雷阿卡拉。

Customers are increasingly asking about the batteries that he often puts in along with the solar panels, allowing them to store the power they generate during the day for use at night. It is more expensive, but it breaks consumer reliance on the utility's network of power lines.