Energy News

Oct 19
Local Industry News

10/23  KHON2: Local nonprofits meet fundraising goals via crowdfunding

10/23  PBN: Hawaii's SafeConnect Solar gets $500k from Energy Department

10/22  PBN: Sunetric declines to renew advertising contract with Volta Industries EV charging network

10/20  Star-Advertiser: Hawaii Gas fuel shift could mean lower bills

10/20  PBN: Public support for renewable energy in Hawaii highly favorable, new report says

10/19  Star-Advertiser: What's in the wind?

Public Utilities Commission

10/10/14  The Hawaiian Electric Companies filed their response to the Information Requests by the Public Utilities Commission regarding the Power Supply Improvement Plans. It is in two parts: Part 1 (89MB) and Part 2 (78MB). (You can also download these from the PUC's Document Management System by searching for Docket No. 2014-0183 and clicking the Documents tab.)

Oct 14
Public Utilities Commission

10/10/14  The Hawaiian Electric Companies filed their response to the Information Requests by the Public Utilities Commission regarding the Power Supply Improvement Plans. It is in two parts: Part 1 (89MB) and Part 2 (78MB). (You can also download these from the PUC's Document Management System by searching for Docket No. 2014-0183 and clicking the Documents tab.)

Local Industry News

10/17  PBN: Hawaii needs to be realistic about energy security

10/17  PBN: Hooked by the barrel

10/17  Star-Advertiser: Car sharing service has eyes on Hawaii

10/17  Star-Advertiser: Gas prices may continue to drop 

10/17  PBN: Hawaii Gas seeking regulatory approval to ship more LNG to Islands

10/16  PBN: Pacific Biodiesel back to fueling boats at Maui's Maalaea Harbor

10/16  PBN: Hawaii capital fund to raise up to $500M to fund solar projects

10/16  PBN: Hawaii's oldest renewable energy firm now owned by its employees

10/16  PBN: Minnesota wind energy firm looking to test technology in Hawaii

10/16  PBN: BAE Systems to equip new Honolulu buses with hybrid system

10/16  Star-Advertiser: Electricity bills decline for most isle customers

10/15  PBN: Patagonia partners with Honolulu capital firm to create $27M solar energy fund

10/15  Business Week: Patagonia will start paying for homeowners' solar panels

10/15  PBN: Hawaii Energy gives $70k incentive check to Four Seasons Hualalai for energy efficiency projects

10/15  Civil Beat: Hawaii governor candidates offer ideas to bring down energy costs

10/15  Star-Advertiser: Would-be governors agree on green energy

1015  PBN: Big Island of Hawaii's solar energy industry not cooling down

10/14  Hawaii News Now: Hawaii's high energy cost debated at gubernatorial forum

10/14  KITV: Candidates share their position on Hawaii's clean energy future

10/14  Star-Advertiser: For geothermal, safety comes first

10/14  PBN: Hawaii gubernatorial candidates split on support of LNG

10/14  PBN: Honoulu hires former Coldwell Banker exec to run city's Bikeshare Hawaii program

10/14  Utility Dive: HECO solar plans in question as second project drops out

10/13  Star-Advertiser: Core changes needed at HEI

10/13  PBN: Oahu's solar industry continues to cool down

Oct 06
Public Meeting

Hawaiian Electric has announced a public forum on Friday, Oct. 17, to talk about their demand response programs. It takes place at the Energy Excelerator office, 1000 Bishop Street, Suite 505. Validated parking will be available at Central Pacific Plaza (220 South King St.) and light refreshments and coffee will be served. You can register by calling (808) 543-4632 or email by October 14, 2014 with the names of those persons who will attend. More info here.

Local Industry News

10/10  KHON: Critics say HECO's electric grid isn't equipped to handle more solar

10/10  PBN: Another major Hawaii solar energy project canceled

10/10  PBN: Former Hawaiian Electric CEO to serve as special advisor to chairman of the board

10/10  Star-Advertiser: PUC is one issue avoided by candidates for governor

10/10  Star-Advertiser: New Tesla Model D touts supercar performance

10/10  Star-Advertiser: HECO energy plan criticized as archaic

10/9  Civil Beat: Solar darkness—is Hawaii trapped in a grim HECO fairy tale?

10/9  PBN: The word 'solar' no longer sexy in Hawaii, solar exec says

10/9  PBN: Google-owned Makani to test wind technology on Hawaii's Big Island

10/9  West Hawaii Today: Makani sets sights on Kohala site for new wind project

10/8  PBN: SolarCity launches loan program in several states, including Hawaii

10/8  PBN: Kauai utility testing LED street lights as part of larger retrofit plan

10/7  Star-Advertiser: HECO plan called 'unfair' in comment to utility board

10/7  Star-Advertiser: LED there be light: 3 share Nobel for blue diode

10/7  Star-Advertiser: Motorists must be cautious in bike track's green zones

10/6  Star-Advertiser: Warm weather appears tied to severe coral bleaching

10/6  PBN: Response crews continue clean up of oil spill in Hawaii waters

10/6  Star-Advertiser: About 1,200 gallons of oil and water spilled off Barbers Point

10/6  PBN: Hawaii Independent Energy works to clean up oily water spill off Oahu

10/6  PBN: Is billionaire businessman Warren Buffet interested in buying Hawaiian Electric?

10/5  Star-Advertiser: Surfer finds off-grid adjustment easy

10/5  Star-Advertiser: Power customers opt to go off grid

10/5  Star-Advertiser: Hawaii Energy offers tips to cut energy costs

10/3  PBN: Power shift: Hawaiian Electric Co. gets a new leader as it changes the way in which businesses and residents get their energy


Sep 29
Public Utitlies Commission
Through Oct. 6, the Public Utilities Commission is accepting public comments on the Hawaiian Electric Companies action plans. Learn more here.
9/26 The PUC has issued an Information Request to the Hawaiian Electric Companies regarding their submitted plans (Docket No. 2014-0183 – Instituting a Proceeding to Review the Power Supply Improvement Plans for Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc., Hawaii Electric Light Company, Inc., and Maui Electric Company, Limited).
Local Industry News

10/2  PBN: New Hawaiian Electric CEO gets high praise from former colleagues

10/1  Star-Advertiser: PUC approves green energy program

10/1  Hawaii News Now: Maui official skeptical on future power plan

10/1  PBN: PUC gives green light on funding deployment for $150M for green finance program

9/30  Solar Industry Mag: Hawaii hopes storage will enable a multi-directional grid

9/30  Greentech Media: Can the Big Island of Hawaii get all of its electricity from renewables?

9/29  PBN: Hawaii Public Utilities Commission still facing staffing, office shortages

9/29  PBN: HECO negotiating with three battery energy storage developers

9/29  PBN: Major Hawaii geothermal project cut in half, switches areas on Big Island

9/29  Star-Advertiser: Energy storage alliances aim to cut costs

9/29  Utility Dive: Solar installers flee Hawaii as interconnection queue backs up

Sep 20
Public Utilities Commission

9/12  ORDER NO. 32294 Inviting Public Comment on the HECO Companies' Power Supply Improvement Plans (Docket 2014-0183) *DEADLINE 10/6*

9/12  ORDER NO. 32293 Inviting Public Comment on the HECO Companies' Distributed Generation Interconnection Plan (Docket 2014-0192) *DEADLINE 10/6*

Local Industry News

9/26  PBN: Commercial PV picks up as residential stalls

9/26  PBN: Hawaii's solar industry still accounts for many jobs despite slowdown

9/26  Star-Advertiser: Aloha stations, stores sold

9/26  Star-Advertiser: Large-scale solar project on Kauai is dedicated

9/26  Star-Advertiser: Alan Oshima: Hawaiian Electric's new president says our green future can happen if we all work together

9/25  PBN: Kauai utility flips the switch on Hawaii's largest solar farm

9/25  Utility Dive: Hawaii marches toward sunny future

9/25  Utility Dive: HECO completes first phse of smart grid rollout

9/25  KHON: Blue Planet raises Hawaii's grade in latest energy report card

9/25  PBN: Sale of Hawaii's Aloha Petroleum to Susser Petroleum makes sense, industry consultants say

9/25  Star-Advertiser: Aloha Petroleum gas stations, convenience stores sold for $240M

9/25  PBN: Hawaii's Aloha Petroleum sold to Houston's Susser Petroleum Partners for $240M

9/25  Star Advertiser: 5,200 smart meters installed on Oahu

9/25  PBN: Hawaiian Electric takes former OHA space at Honolulu's Pacific Park Plaza

9/24  Civil Beat: HECO begins smart grid rollout on Oahu

9/24  KITV: Chevron considers selling Hawaii refinery

9/24  Hawaii News Now: Kauai offered view of state's largest solar farm

9/24  KHON: Chevron considering sale of Hawaii-based assets

9/24  KHON: HECO completes first phase of smart grid technology

9/24  PBN: Hawaiian Electric installs smart grid technology in several Oahu neighborhoods

9/24  Star Advertiser: Kauai offers view of state's largest solar farm

9/24  Star-Advertiser: HECO switches on 5,200 smart meters on Oahu

9/23  PBN: Hawaiian Electric Industries' stock has nice upside, Wall Street's top-paid CEO tells CNBC

9/23  PBN: Chevron Hawaii refinery operation could fetch from $75M up to $200M

9/23  PBN: Former CEO of Hawaii's largest oil refinery speaks out

9/23  Civil Beat: Daring the public to comment on new HECO plan

9/22  PBN: Hawaii solar developer cancels major Oahu project

9/20  Civil Beat: HECO executives take heat from lawmakers, solar industry

9/20  Star-Advertiser: HECO chided for stalling PV systems

9/20  Hawaii News Now: HECO updates lawmakers on PV progress

Sep 14
Public Utilites Commission

9/15  Blue Planet Foundation Reply Statement of Position filed in Docket 2013-0141 (Instituting an Investigation to Reexamine the Existing Decoupling Mechanisms for Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc., Hawaii Electric Light Company, Inc., and Maui Electric Company, Limited.

9/12  ORDER NO. 32294 Inviting Public Comment on the HECO Companies' Power Supply Improvement Plans (Docket 2014-0183)

9/12  ORDER NO. 32293 Inviting Public Comment on the HECO Companies' Distributed Generation Interconnection Plan (Docket 2014-0192)

Local Industry News

9/19  KHON2: HECO says Oahu customers can resume normal electricity use

9/19  PBN: D.R. Horton plans 2015 start on Hawaii solar farm with new contractor

9/19  PBN: Maui, Kauai hold potential for seawater air-conditioning, Honolulu CEO says

9/19  PBN: Chevron mulling sale of Hawaii refinery

9/18  PBN: Former Sierra Club Hawaii director Robert Harris joins national solar company Sunrun

9/18  Star-Advertiser: Repairs underway at lame electrical facility

9/18  PBN: Hawaii tops in the U.S. in schools that could save money by going solar

9/17  Utility Dive: Hawaiian Electric system feels strain of heat wave, low reserves

9/17  PBN: CEO says Honolulu Seawater A/C project to start construction in August 2015

9/17  PBN: Hawaiian Electric developing plans for community solar

9/17  Star-Advertiser: Kiosks will help residents track Oahu's energy use

9/17  Star-Advertiser: Bills climbing on Oahu

9/17  PBN: Hawaiian Electric expects to save $22 million next year from fuel supply contract changes

9/17  PBN: New HECO CEO will be community-focused leader

9/17  Civil Beat: HECO ratepayers, you're going to pay

9/16  Star-Advertiser: Federal, isle leaders renew energy goals

9/16  West Hawaii Today: Public Utilities Commission seeks comment

9/16  PBN: HECO down to finalists in LNG developer selection process

9/16  KITV: Aloha state gets a 'C' on renewable energy report card

9/16  KHON: HECO asking Oahu customers again to conserve power

9/16  PBN: First Wind may scrap major solar projects on Oahu if deadline not met

9/16  PBN: Hawaii needs to be cautious in pursuing 100% renewable energy goal

9/16  PBN: Hawaii's Energy Excelerator doubles portfolio with 17 startups

9/16  Civil Beat: Renewable Energy: Let's Make a Deal

9/15  Biofuels Digest: Honolulu City aims for full biodiesel-based mass transit system

9/15  PBN: Blue Planet Foundation gives Hawaii a 'C' for clean energy progress

9/15  PBN: Hawaii working to reduce petroleum fuel use in transportation

9/15  PBN: Public can comment on Hawaiian Electric Co.'s new energy plans

9/15  PBN: Hawaii, Energy Department continue to work together on clean energy

9/15  PBN: Parker Ranch hires former Hawaiian Electric exec Jose Dizon to run Paniolo Power Co.

9/15  Star-Advertiser: Atrractive 'green roof' eases energy usage at Turtle Bay

9/14  Star-Advertiser: Is Hawaiian Electric trying to kill rooftop solar?

9/14  West Hawaii Today: Mahalo to the PUC and HECO

Sep 10

The Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection, House Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection, and House Committee on Consumer Protection & Commerce have called an informational briefing on Sep. 19:

"The purpose of this informational briefing is to get an update on the impacts of Hawaiian Electric Company’s September 2013 policy changes on solar interconnection, learn more about Hawaiian Electric Company’s future plans for distributed generation, and hear alternative perspectives on resolving the challenges related to the integration of distributed generation.

The following organizations will give presentations:

Hawaiian Electric Company

Hawai`i Solar Energy Association

Hawai`i PV Coalition

The Alliance for Solar Choice

No public testimony will be accepted."



Friday, September 19, 2014


1 p.m.


Conference Room 325

State Capitol

415 South Beretania Street



Sep 08

Local Industry News

9/12  PV Solar Report: Stem distributed storage will strengthen Hawaii grid response

9/12  PBN: More changes at the top for the owner of Hawaii's largest refinery

9/12  Utility Dive: Hawaiian Electric names new CEO

9/11  PBN: New Hawaiian Electric CEO has the right vision, energy industry experts say

9/11  Greentech Media: STEM to install 1MW of networked, behind-the-meter batteries in Hawaii

9/11  PBN: Hawaiian Electric to use energy storage project developed by California startup

9/11  PBN: Major energy initiative at Hawaii's public schools to start late this year

9/11  Utility Dive: HECO to pilot Stem's grid-responsive, behind-the-meter energy storage

9/10  Smart Grid News: What's the future of utilities? Hawaii has one answer

9/10  HPR Bytemarks Cafe: Episode 315: A smarter grid

9/10  Star-Advertiser: Oshima named CEO of Hawaiian Electric Co.

9/10  PBN: Alan Oshima named president, CEO of Hawaiian Electric Co.

9/10  Star-Advertiser: Cutting CO2 emissions critical to saving coral reefs

9/10  Star-Advertiser:  PV system permits plummet on Oahu

9/10  PBN: Major energy initiative at Hawaii's public schools to start late this year

9/9  KHON: Boiler leak caused issues at Waiau plant; power problem remains unresolved

9/9  PBN: Chevron Energy Solutions Hawaii office acquired by national energy firm

9/9  Civilbeat: Have you caught wind of what's missing from HECO's energy plan?

9/8  KITV: HECO asking Oahu to conserve power Monday evening

9/8  Utility Dive: Hawaii utilities call for rogue solar systems to disconnect from grid

9/8  Star-Advertiser: HECO asks customers to conserve electricity

9/8  Star-Advertiser: Bicycle lane on King Street in the works

9/7  KITV: Solar installation still a hot topic

9/7  Star-Advertiser: New transit companies pose risk to consumer protection and safety

9/7  Star-Advertiser: Energy market races past HECO's horse and buggy

9/4  Sustainable Business: Hawaii's auction challenges energy efficiency innovators

Public Utilities Commission

9/8  Blue Planet Foundation filed comments on the Hawaiian Electric Companies' Integrated Demand Resource Portfolio Plan (Docket No. 2007-0341)

9/3  On Thursday, Sep. 3, the PUC issued Decision and Order No. 32281 (Docket No. 2014-0134) giving DBEDT authority to issue Green Infrastructure bonds up to $150 million, as well as authorizing the Green Infrastructure Fee. This financing order will be accompanied by a forthcoming "program order," that establishes the Green Infrastructure Loan Program, also referred to as the GEMS (Green Energy Market Securitization) program.


Aug 31

Public Utilities Commission

On Thursday, Sep. 3, the PUC issued Decision and Order No. 32281 (Docket No. 2014-0134) giving DBEDT authority to issue Green Infrastructure bonds up to $150 million, as well as authorizing the Green Infrastructure Fee. This financing order will be accompanied by a forthcoming "program order," that establishes the Green Infrastructure Loan Program, also referred to as the GEMS (Green Energy Market Securitization) program.

Local Industry News

9/5  Utility Dive: Hawaii utilities, solar installers feud over lengthy interconnection delays

9/5  PBN: HECO warns customers with PV about "rogue systems"

9/5  PBN: Hawaii regulators give state OK to issue $150M for green finance program

9/5  PBN: Hawaii losing ground in national solar energy rankings

9/5  PBN: Hawaii's largest refinery pursuing other outlets

9/5  PBN: CEO of Hawaii's largest oil refinery stepping down

9/5  PBN: Hawaiian Electric won't renew contract with state's largest oil refinery

9/4  AP: Solar firms, Hawaiian Electric blame each other for delays in connecting solar to power grid

9/4  Star-Advertiser: Solar firms scald utility

9/4  Star-Advertiser: Enterprise's hourly rental fleet expands

9/4  PBN: Asking price for Hawaii's Aloha Petroleum likely $350M, source says

9/3  PBN: Aloha Petroleum considers selling Hawaii's largest independent gas station network

9/3  PBN: Hawaiian Electric's new energy plan gains interest from industry, customers

9/3  Utility Dive: Hawaii's utilities plan for 67% renewables by 2030

9/2  Clean Energy Authority: HECO plan triples solar, but will it stop grid defection?

9/2  Star-Advertiser: Interisland cable also lost in latest primary election

9/1  PBN: Hawaii's Energy Excelerator opens headquarters in downtown Honolulu

9/1  PBN: Auction to provide up to $2.1 million for Hawaii energy efficiency projects

8/31  Star-Advertiser: HECO plan falls short of transformative

Aug 29

Recently, Hawaiian Electric filed a series of plans, intended to guide the utility’s path through 2030. We have applied to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to take part in evaluating the plans. In our initial review, we have questions about the plans and whether it achieves the transformation needed. Blue Planet will be working with experts to understand exactly what has been proposed, what the changes mean for customers, and how the plans can be improved.

Below are our initial comments and questions, triggered by the plans’ own description. Some aspects of the plan are positive: They begin to take a more realistic picture of the value and benefits of renewable energy. For example, when Hawaiian Electric thought there was a “close call” between a renewable and non-renewable option, the renewable option was chosen. The effects of volatile fossil fuel prices were considered, with a preference toward renewable energy with a known cost. The utility has shown a willingness to collaborate with industry and community stakeholders to optimize Hawaii’s energy plan.

We encourage additional feedback and questions from everyone. The utility exists to serve its customers. When customers ask questions, that process can be a powerful driver for improvement.

Hawaiian Electric Plan:

“Increases customer-owned distributed generation three-fold”

Clean Energy Viewpoint and Questions:

Although the plans do allow for gradual installation of rooftop solar over the next 15 years, the plans will slow down annual solar growth by a factor of 20, by making it much more expensive for customers to use rooftop solar power. At recent growth rates, customers would choose to triple the amount of solar power in the next three years. Under the plan, it will take fifteen years.

In recent years, customers have installed rooftop solar panels at a growth rate of around 100% annually (2011-2013). Because the new plan proposes to make solar power more expensive for customers, Hawaiian Electric forecasts that solar growth will slow to less than 5% annually (2014-2030). In addition, thousands of customers are already waiting for utility approval to install solar panels. Slowing the growth of solar means that once this backlog is cleared, the plan could severely limit customers who wish to go solar in the future.

The plans’ suggested “DG 2.0” (distributed generation) rate design will eliminate the popular net energy metering plan, and will increase the fixed charge for solar customers to $71 per month. The price that customers receive for their excess solar power will be cut in half. The result will be larger solar systems installed by fewer people, with customers incentivized to over-size the system to make up for the lower rate. These fewer, but bigger, solar systems will make it harder for low-income households to install solar, and could contribute to circuit penetration problems. This will also have the effect of minimizing the degree to which PV acts like efficiency by offsetting coincident load (i.e. when solar power is used at the same house where it is generated). Currently, around 8000 net energy metering customers export excess energy to the grid, at no charge to the utility.

A better approach would optimize the costs and benefits of solar power, perhaps by establishing a time-of-use and dynamic rate structure to encourage load shifting (i.e. maximizing PV production with coincident load). Fixed charges should be rationally related to the actual standby/capacity required for the PV owners—for example, a charge based on how big the system is and how much energy the customer will demand when the sun isn’t shining. Customers who don't export energy to the grid should be charged differently than customers who do. The grid benefits of distributed generation, such as reduced transmission losses, eliminating the daytime capacity peak, excess solar energy exported to the grid, and progress toward clean energy goals, must be accurately accounted for. A forward-thinking business plan will find ways for the utility to make money by making it easier for customers to plug solar power into the grid, rather than making it harder.

Hawaiian Electric Plan:

Utilize energy storage and demand response to minimize the amount of ‘must-run’ fossil-fueled generation needed to provide essential grid services”

Clean Energy Viewpoint and Questions:

This is encouraging. Finding ways to incorporate energy storage will support the utility’s shift from a company that sells kilowatt-hours, to a company that makes it possible to use more and more clean energy.

The risk here is underestimating the market. In 2008, for example, the utility and the state planned for 23 megawatts of rooftop solar power on Oahu by 2015. Customers beat that estimate ten times over, with around 200 megawatts installed today. With the right market incentives, could we beat the plan’s storage estimate by a factor of ten? Will the system and the company be ready to use that much storage, and the renewable energy it will enable?

Hawaiian Electric Plan:

“Procures liquefied natural gas (LNG) coupled with modifying certain generating units to burn LNG”  and “Installs new LNG-fired combustion-turbine and combined cycle capacity to replace retired thermal units, which provides the generation flexibility necessary to accommodate high penetration of distributed and utility-scale renewables”

Clean Energy Viewpoint and Questions:

The utility anticipates swapping oil for large quantities of imported industrial gas (LNG). Are more fossil fuels the answer to the problems created by fossil fuels?

Under the industrial gas plan, LNG will be imported to Hawaii after it is drilled from the ground via hydraulic fracturing process—fracking. Fracking will expose communities to numerous environmental, safety, and health hazards. Also, industrial gas is mostly made of methane, a greenhouse gas roughly 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. That methane will leak to the atmosphere during the drilling, extraction, processing, liquefaction, and transportation stages. This toxic leakage can pollute groundwater and create climate impacts that are just as bad as the oil we are currently using.

The cost of swapping from oil to industrial gas is still unclear. The plan forecasts the price of gas dropping by around 25% in 2022. If this prediction doesn’t materialize, can an industrial gas plan really deliver the promised 20% electricity savings? Once we add the cost of shipping the gas to Hawaii, the cost of modifying existing generators to burn the gas, the cost of building new power plants to burn the gas, the cost of building storage for the gas, and the cost of paying for the environmental impacts, how long do we need to use gas to recoup that upfront cost? Who will pay the price if gas can’t deliver the promised savings—customers or utility shareholders?

In some scenarios, a gas plant plus a solar farm is cheaper than a gas plant alone. This is because the biggest expense for fossil-fueled electricity is the cost of the fuel. By using the solar farm when the sun is shining, the gas plant can burn less fuel and save money. If industrial gas is part of Hawaii’s energy plan, how can we be sure that it is used as little as possible and retired as soon as possible?

Hawaiian Electric Plan:

Converts AES Hawaii from 100% coal to 50% biomass and 50% coal”

Clean Energy Viewpoint and Questions:

Burning less coal is certainly a step in the right direction. But the plan seems to contemplate a long-term agreement to continue burning 50% coal. Oahu would be reliant on imported coal for nearly 10% of its electricity needs in 2030 and beyond. Is this the right balance for Hawaii? Large generators like AES coal are large, inflexible powerplants that lack the ability to follow the shifting needs of system powered largely be renewable energy.

Hawaiian Electric Plan:

"Result in more than 65% of the Companies' energy being provided by renewable resources”

Clean Energy Viewpoint and Questions:

This 65% target is encouraging, and it illustrates that the current state target (40%) is just a floor for Hawaii’s energy possibilities.

However, it appears that a large portion of the 65% is derived from waste-to-energy and burning biomass in the AES coal plant. While waste and biomass can be smart strategies to back up a system powered by local and sustainable energy resources, they need not be the primary clean energy components.

Hawaiian Electric Plan:

Deactivates all the existing oil-fired generators”

Clean Energy Viewpoint and Questions:

This is encouraging, and it illustrates that old energy infrastructure is not a barrier to moving into a more modern system. The key will be to replace oil-fired generators in a ways that do not limit the utility’s flexibility in adopting new technology.  If we simply replace old fossil fuel power plants with new ones, will that limit our clean energy options?

Hawaiian Electric Plan:

“Adds large amounts of new utility-scale solar” and “Adds modest amounts of new utility-scale wind”

Clean Energy Viewpoint and Questions:

Over the next five years, the plans allow for the addition of solar and wind power from projects that have already been proposed. After that, the addition of new solar, wind, and geothermal power is relatively limited.

The plans call for 324 MW of new wind and solar over the next five years. Many of those projects are already “in the pipeline.” Hawaiian Electric has selected a number of proposals for energy at less than 16 cents/kWh (for comparison, oil-powered electricity is at around 22-23 cents/kWh), and approval from the PUC is awaiting submission of final agreements between Hawaiian Electric and renewable energy companies.

Over ten years from 2020 to 2030, the plans call for only 170 MW of new solar, wind, or geothermal power (around 14% of Oahu’s current peak load). Further, some types of resources, such as offshore wind farms and wave energy, which are already used in other parts of the world, were not included as options for this future timeframe.

Hawaiian Electric Plan:

“Aggressively expands our demand response programs”

Clean Energy Viewpoint and Questions:

This is encouraging.Demand response means using energy in a way that matches local supply. A truly aggressive approach to demand response will mean that this is more than just a utility program; it will be a core function of the utility’s business and revenue model. Are we finding all the demand response opportunities?

Hawaiian Electric Plan: 

Create a state-of-the-art energy delivery system (the grid) as the platform for the new energy portfolio and customer options”

Clean Energy Viewpoint and Questions:

The utility’s most important asset is the grid and the ability to improve the grid’s ability of creating options for customers, so making this a focus is encouraging. Does the plan envision developing a diversity of revenue streams that support and complement this core strength? Can the utility help customers, and also generate revenue from things like:

  • Electric vehicles, to allow customers to lower commuting costs, while making it easier for the grid to use more renewable energy?
  • Community solar, to allow renters and condo residents to use solar power?
  • Distributed storage, to enable customers to use their energy more effectively?
  • Leasing programs like solar or grid-interactive hot water systems, so that customers get the services they need at a lower price?

A first step for this state-of-the-art energy system is installing smart meters to enable a more dynamic approach to the utility business. The utility has begun the process of installing smart meters, with a plan to upgrade most meters by 2018.