Energy Policy

Jun 10
2014

There has been action on two programs that Blue Planet championed that will help increase the adoption of solar power and energy efficiency improvements for Hawaii homes and businesses. Last week, the PUC opened a docket to implement on-bill financing, which has been named "Hawaii Energy Bill Saver Program." And yesterday, the state filed two applications with the PUC to authorize the Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) program, which secures low-interest capital for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects through green infrastructure bonds backed by ratepayer fees (that are to be offset by a reduction in the public benefits fee that ratepayers are already paying).

Read the PUC filings here (if they don't load up, enter the docket number manually here):

Docket No. 2014-0129 Instituting a Proceeding to Establish and Implement an On-Bill Financing Program

Docket No. 2014-0134 Application for a Financing Order to Issue Bonds and to Authorize the Green Infrastructure Fee

Docket No. 2014-0135 Application for an Order Approving the Green Infrastructure Loan Program

Read news stories here:

Big Island Now: State asks PUC to Approve Solar System Loan Program

Business Week: Hawaii gov seeks clean energy financing approval

Star-Advertiser: Green energy funding sought

PBN: Hawaii green financing program heads to state regulators for approval

Press release from DBEDT: DBEDT Files Applications with PUC to Implement Green Energy Market Securitization Program

PBN: State regulators implementing "Hawaii Energy Bill Saver Program"

 

May 02
2014

Public Utilities Commission

The PUC announced four key regulatory decisions on Tuesday, Apr. 29, outlining a proactive approach for Hawai‘i’s energy utilities to meet the increasingly urgent mandate for clean, local, affordable energy.

Summary of the orders filed:

1.    Order No. 32052 Rejection of the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) and Commission's vision for the future of the utility.

2.    Order No. 32053 Adoption of the findings of the Reliability Standards Working Group (RSWG). [Blue Planet led portions of the RSWG efforts.]

3.    Order No. 32054 Evaluation of the Maui Electric Company’s (MECO) System Improvement and Curtailment Reduction Plan and order for MECO to file a Power Supply Improvement Plan within 120 days

4.    Order No. 32055 Specific policy guidelines regarding the standards to be met by the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ demand response programs

The Commission’s orders reflected its dissatisfaction with shortcomings in the development of a comprehensive long-term energy plan. Generally, the orders steer the Hawaiian Electric Companies down a path that strategically prioritizes cost-effective renewable resources. With the IRP order, the Commission also included a 30-page discussion that calls on the utility to modernize the generation system on each island grid expeditiously, create advanced transmission and distribution networks that can integrate more distributed energy, and comply with reformed regulatory rate structures that will better align the utility's business model with customers' interests and public policy goals.

Read the Star-Advertiser May 5 editorial.

Apr 28
2014

Community Solar

Senate Bill 2934 failed to pass out of conference committee by Friday's deadline. Blue Planet is currently looking into what happened, and urging legislators to do what they can to reconsider the bill. It appeared that there was agreement among the lead committee chairs and among most stakeholders including HECO, Blue Planet, and the PUC, and the bill did not require any budget appropriation, so it is perplexing that the bill did not advance.

At least 10 other states have already passed bills to act on community solar, which allows ratepayers to benefit from clean energy even if it is not located on their own roof. The concept has potential to directly address many of the issues we are facing in Hawaii. It can make clean, affordable energy such as solar power available to everyone, including residents and businesses:

 - in high-rise condominiums
 - on saturated circuits where the utility is no longer approving solar
 - who rent.

It can help with a near-term solution to address circuit saturation. It can accelerate a shift in the utility business model by making it profitable for them to use more clean energy. And it can debunk the misperception that distributed generation is unfair.

Going into the legislative session, clean energy, high electricity rates, and fairness among utility customers were critical policy issues before the legislature this session--and top of mind for constituents. Despite a growing frustration among voters, the 2014 legislature failed to pass substantive clean energy legislation to address these issues. Bills to address renewable energy curtailment, incentivize or mandate energy storage, reallocate the barrel tax, and set a 100% renewable energy goal all failed to advance. We are asking legislators to reconsider the merits of community solar and pass a measure that will accelerate our progress toward a clean energy future before the official end of the session next week.

Public Utilities Commission

The PUC announced four key regulatory decisions Tuesday, outlining a proactive approach for Hawai‘i’s energy utilities to meet the increasingly urgent mandate for clean, local, affordable energy.

Summary of the orders filed:

1.    Order No. 32052 Rejection of the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) and Commission's vision for the future of the utility.

2.    Order No. 32053 Adoption of the findings of the Reliability Standards Working Group (RSWG). [Blue Planet led portions of the RSWG efforts.]

3.    Order No. 32054 Evaluation of the Maui Electric Company’s (MECO) System Improvement and Curtailment Reduction Plan and order for MECO to file a Power Supply Improvement Plan within 120 days

4.    Order No. 32055 Specific policy guidelines regarding the standards to be met by the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ demand response programs

The Commission’s orders reflected its dissatisfaction with shortcomings in the development of a comprehensive long-term energy plan. Generally, the orders steer the Hawaiian Electric Companies down a path that strategically prioritizes cost-effective renewable resources. With the IRP order, the Commission also included a 30-page discussion that calls on the utility to modernize the generation system on each island grid expeditiously, create advanced transmission and distribution networks that can integrate more distributed energy, and comply with reformed regulatory rate structures that will better align the utility's business model with customers' interests and public policy goals.

Na Makani Wind Project Competitive Bid Waiver Application (Docket 2013-0423)

Order No. 32036 Approving with modifications, stipulated procedural order. In the Matter of the Application of Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. For Waiver of the Na Pua Makani Wind Project from the Framework for Competitive Bidding, and Approval of the Power Purchase Agreement for Renewable As-Available Energy with Na Pua Makani Power Partners, LLC

Local Industry News

PBN: KIUC to retrofit county street lights with more energy efficient lighting

PBN: Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning project gets funding extension

PBN: HECO looking for energy storage developers to build projects

Civil Beat: Abercrombie says Hawaii has crossed "the Energy Rubicon" on renewables

Hawaii News Now: Hawaii wants Hawaiian Electric to develop plans

KITV: Gov, PUC mandate HECO to modernize

PBN: Hawaii regulators not observing sufficient urgency by Hawaiian Electric Cos

KHON2: State orders Hawaiian Electric Companies to lower rates, connect more solar

Civil Beat: Community solar bill is another victim of legislative crunch

Star-Advertiser: Bill to expand solar power shelved

Star-Advertiser: Hawaii utilities rank highly for installations of PV systems

PBN: Hawaii to cut use of oil for power generation by half by 2020, new report says

KHON2 News: Refinery task force's final report outlines success, future issues

Star-Advertiser: Feds to spend $10M on wave energy prototypes in Hawaii

Star-Advertiser: New solar power guidelines issued

PBN: Hawaii ranks as one of the top states in the U.S. for solar energy

Apr 23
2014
Earth Day Community Clean Energy Rally

Mahalo to all the students and community members who participated in our rally at the Capitol: Farrington High School, Hongwanji Mission, ‘Iolani School, Le Jardin, Waialua Intermediate and HS, Nanakuli Intermediate and HS, Leilehua HS, and Hawaii Pacific University. You are the future! You have the power. Also, big thanks to our resident artists Drew Toonz and Michal Abramovitz and singer-songrwriter Aaron Domingo.

Community Solar

Senate Bill 2934 to establish a community solar program enters conference committee proceedings this week. Here is Blue Planet's memorandum to conferees as they hash out the most effective legislation for this program.

Local Industry News

PBN: Lawmakers can shine new light on solar energy

KHON2 News: Condo dwellers, renters may soon be able to invest in solar panels

Star-Advertiser: Solar survey blisters HECO

PBN: Poll: Residents think Hawaiian Electric slowing solar to protect profits

PBN: Energy Department identifies 31 Hawaii clean energy technologies and potential impacts to the envrionment

Civil Beat: Will HECO's plan for its own solar plant help or hurt Hawaii consumers?

KITV: Lawmakers provide clean energy financing for low, middle-income homeowners

Apr 21
2014

RALLY FOR COMMUNITY CLEAN ENERGY: EARTH DAY, TUESDAY, APR. 22

What: Community Clean Energy Rally

When: Tues., April 22, 10am to noon

Where: Hawaii State Capitol Rotunda

Who: 300+ students and concerned citizens for a future beyond fossil fuels

See you there!

Community Solar

Senate Bill 2934 to establish a community solar program enters conference committee proceedings this week. Here is Blue Planet's memorandum to conferees as they hash out the most effective legislation for this program.

Apr 14
2014
EARTH DAY Community Clean Energy Rally at the State Capitol

Join 250 Hawai‘i students next Tuesday, Apr. 22 from 10am to noon as they rally for a clean energy future. Is your school interested in participating? Please contact Francois Rogers at francois@blueplanetfoundation.org

Local industry news

PBN: Sunetric founder, former CEO to develop major solar farm in West Oahu

PBN: Hawaii Gas CEO wants more collaboration in state's energy industry

PBN: First Wind to build 20MW solar farm on Castle & Cooke land on Oahu

Maui News: Electric bills could go up if PUC approves rate proposal

PBN: Honolulu sees continued solar energy permit decline

Apr 07
2014
COMMUNITY SOLAR

STATUS: 4/4 Reported from FIN (Stand. Com. Rep. No. 1646-14), recommending passage on Third Reading. 3/31: The committees on FIN recommend that the measure be PASSED, UNAMENDED. The votes were as follows: 16 Ayes: Representative(s) Luke, Nishimoto, Johanson, Cullen, Ing, Kobayashi, Lowen, Morikawa, Onishi, Takayama, Woodson, Fukumoto, Ward; Ayes with reservations: Representative(s) Jordan, Tokioka, Yamashita; Noes: none; and 1 Excused: Representative(s) Hashem.

Local Industry News

PBN: Honolulu ranks No. 1 in U.S. in growth of solar installations

Star-Advertiser: Hawaiian Electric Co.'s president and CEO is enthusiastic about helping Hawaii get off oil

PBN: Hawaiian Electric gets $500k federal grant to help manage renewable energy

Star-Advertiser: Cheaper electricity is Hawaii's greatest need

PBN: Hawaii Gas starts shipping liquefied natural gas to its Honolulu facility

Star-Advertiser: State faces revenue decline over solar tax credits

Mar 28
2014

LEGISLATIVE HEARINGS

COMMUNITY SOLAR

UPDATE 4/1: The committees on FIN recommend that the measure be PASSED, UNAMENDED. The votes were as follows: 16 Ayes: Representative(s) Luke, Nishimoto, Johanson, Cullen, Ing, Kobayashi, Lowen, Morikawa, Onishi, Takayama, Woodson, Fukumoto, Ward; Ayes with reservations: Representative(s) Jordan, Tokioka, Yamashita; Noes: none; and 1 Excused: Representative(s) Hashem.

Mon, 3/31, 2pm, Room 308: SB2934 SD2  RELATING TO RENEWABLE ENERGY. Allows the public utilities commission to establish community-based renewable energy tariffs by which electric utility customers may own portions of a renewable energy facility that sells energy to the utility, regardless of the physical siting or interconnection of the renewable energy facility. Effective 07/01/2050.

SEND SUPPORTING TESTIMONY! Email FINtestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov

LOCAL INDUSTRY NEWS

PBN: Pacific Biodiesel shuts down facility at Maui landfill after being open for almost 20 years

PBN: Hawaii's Parker Ranch unveils energy subsidiary

PBN: Hawaiian Electric releases final report on 2006 major power outage after Big Island earthquake

Star-Advertiser: Parker Ranch moves forward with plan to power the community

PBN: Hawaiian Electric ahead of 2015 renewable energy goal

PBN: Colorado solar company expects to expand Sunetric in locations, employees

PBN: Ala Moana Center completes one of Hawaii's largest rooftop solar energy projects

PBN: Owner of Hawaii's largest oil refinery records $71M loss in 2013

PBN: Hawaiian Electric won't demolish shuttered power plant anytime soon

Civil Beat: A solar discussion must start with the facts

Mar 24
2014
ENERGY STORAGE

Fri, 3/28, 9:15am, Room 211, DECISION-MAKING: HB2618 HD2 SD1 RELATING TO ENERGY STORAGE. Establishes an income tax credit for each grid-connected energy storage property that is installed and placed in service in the State during the taxable year beginning after December 31, 2014; provided that this tax credit shall not be available for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2025. Allows the tax credit to be claimed as either an investment credit or utilization credit. Effective July 1, 2050.

INTERCONNECTION

Fri, 3/28, 9:15am, Room 211, DECISION-MAKING: HB1943 HD2 SD1 RELATING TO THE MODERNIZATION OF THE HAWAII ELECTRIC SYSTEM. Amends the public utilities commission principles regarding the modernization of the electric grid. Requires the commission to initiate a proceeding no later than July 1, 2014, to discuss upgrades to the Hawaii electric system for anticipated growth of customer generation. Appropriates funds to cover costs of the proceeding. Effective July 1, 2050.

COMMUNITY SOLAR

SB2934 SD2  Status 3/21: Passed Second Reading as amended in HD 1 and referred to the committee(s) on FIN with Representative(s) Awana, Carroll, Fale, Hanohano, Ito, Jordan, McKelvey, Oshiro voting aye with reservations; Representative(s) Har, Say voting no (2) and Representative(s) Tokioka, Ward, Yamane excused (3).

RELATING TO RENEWABLE ENERGY. Allows the public utilities commission to establish community-based renewable energy tariffs by which electric utility customers may own portions of a renewable energy facility that sells energy to the utility, regardless of the physical siting or interconnection of the renewable energy facility. Effective 07/01/2050.

LOCAL INDUSTRY NEWS

PBN: Expect more solar industry consolidation, former Sunetric CEO says

Star-Advertiser: PUC chief to remain in post after term expires in June

PBN: Governor keeps Hawaii PUC chair Morita on 'holdover' basis

Star-Advertiser: Navy electricity rate will be cut after flap

PBN: Sunetric being acquired by Colorado-based firm for $19 million

PBN: Kauai utility getting lots of interest in liquefied natural gas effort

PBN: Parker Ranch to unveil renewable energy plans

PBN: Kauai utility looking for energy storage developers

PBN: Hawaii Telcom plans to install solar energy on 78 facilities statewide

PBN: Large Kauai solar energy farm to be completed this summer

Star Advertiser: It's time for Hawaii to consider replacing monopoly power grid

PBN: Former U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu lashes out at Hawaiian Electric

Mar 14
2014

LEGISLATIVE HEARINGS

COMMUNITY SOLAR

Thu, 3/20, 11am, Room 325: SB2934 SD2  RELATING TO RENEWABLE ENERGY. Allows the public utilities commission to establish community-based renewable energy tariffs by which electric utility customers may own portions of a renewable energy facility that sells energy to the utility, regardless of the physical siting or interconnection of the renewable energy facility. Effective 07/01/2050.

INTERCONNECTION

Thu, 3/20, 3:35pm, Room 225: HB1943 HD2 RELATING TO THE MODERNIZATION OF THE HAWAII ELECTRIC SYSTEM. Amends the public utilities commission principles regarding the modernization of the electric grid. Requires the commission to initiate a proceeding no later than July 1, 2014, to discuss upgrades to the Hawaii electric system for anticipated growth of customer generation. Appropriates funds to cover costs of the proceeding. Effective July 1, 2050.

100% RENEWABLE PORTFOLIO STANDARD

Tue, 3/18, 8:30am, Room 325: SB2199, SD1 RELATING TO RENEWABLE ENERGY. Proposed HD1: Requires that each electric utility company that sells electricity for consumption in the State develop a renewable portfolio standard goal of one hundred per cent of its net electricity sales.

LOCAL INDUSTRY NEWS

PBN: Hawaiian Electric expects cost savings of up to $500M a year using LNG

Star-Advertiser: Solar power to the people: A social, spiritual benefit

PBN: Hawaii AG: Geothermal development on Hawaiian homestead lands must benefit Hawaiians

PBN: Hawaiian Electric may begin shipping LNG in 2016 to multiple islands

Star-Advertiser: Smart grid payoff should be lower rates

Star-Advertiser: Pairing sun, sheep

Pacific Business News: Maui renewable energy project gets key regulatory approval