In September 2013, Hawaiian Electric Co. told thousands of customers they couldn’t connect their new solar panels to its distribution grid. In some neighborhoods, HECO said, its system couldn’t absorb any more unused energy from home solar arrays. The moratorium, which lasted 13 months, made Hawaii a central battleground in the effort by utilities to control the rapid growth of independent solar companies across the U.S. And it was a big deal to people such as Robert Gould, a retired Northwest Airlines pilot living near Honolulu. He’d just paid $53,000 to have solar panels installed.
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