Hawaii sees a solar power flare-up

By Kim Murphy, Tribune Newspapers On an island whose stock in trade is sun, and lots of it, Lawrence and Cindy Lee figured they'd be foolish not to join their neighbors and put a few solar panels on the roof. The Lees called one of the solar contractors racing around Hawaii these days and put in their order. Eleven months later, in October -- after endless consultations, emails and a $3,000 study required by Maui Electric Co. -- they were still waiting for a permit. "Instead of it being like they want to help you get your solar system in," Lawrence Lee said, "it's more like they don't want you to." Solar power has grown increasingly popular across the U.S. Sun Belt, but hardly anywhere has it taken hold as it has in Hawaii. Friendly tax credits, the highest average electricity rates in the nation and the most aggressive renewable energy program adopted by any state have se...

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