Energy Policy

Mar 03
2015
Public Utilities Commission: NextEra-HECO Merger Update

Mar. 2, 2015  ORDER NO. 32695 (Docket 2015-0022). Initiating proceedings; establishing standards of review, initial statement of issues, and initial procedures; and addressing intervention requests in the matter of the application of HECO, HELCO, MECO, and NextEra Energy for approval of the proposed change of control and related matters.

Below are highlights from the order granting intervention to Blue Planet Foundation and 27 other parties as the PUC considers the sale of Hawaiian Electric to NextEra Energy:

[The Commission establishes standards of review.]

Thus, in this Order, the commission is establishing procedures to determine not only whether the benefits promised by the Applicants would be realized if theApplication is approved, but whether the Applicants will adequately address those issues currently before the commission, as well as the State's renewable energy goals.

***

[The Commission will apply contested case procedures and sets a timeline.]

In order to facilitate the formal hearing process,the Parties will be required to prefile prepared testimony pursuant to the requirements of HAR § 6-61-45. Thus, the proposed procedural order shall include, at a minimum, the prefiling of prepared testimony in the following sequence:

(1) direct testimony by the Applicants in support of the Application; (2) answering and direct testimony by the Interveners; (3) answering and direct testimony by the Consumer Advocate; and (4) responsive testimony by the Applicants. The proposed procedural order shall also include reasonable opportunity for the filing of information requests by all Parties

In addition, the procedural schedule shall provide for completion of the above steps on or before August 31, 2015.

***

[The Commission will hold public hearings on Oahu, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, and Hawaii Island.]

The Commission intends to provide members of the public the opportunity to address the commission concerning the Proposed Transaction at "public listening sessions." These sessions will be conducted on each of the islands served by the HECO Companies: Oahu, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, and Hawaii.

***

[The Commission grants intervention to all applicants that moved to intervene.]

Twenty-eight motions to intervene were filed in this docket. The commission notes that the Applicants filed oppositions to the intervention motions of Blue Planet, FOL, HIEC, HINA, HREA, HSEA, HWSC, KIUC, KLMA, LOL, Puna Pono, REACH, and TASC.

Given the nature of the Proposed Transaction as discussed above, the commission finds that it is in the public interest to ensure that abroad spectrum of interests are represented in the proceeding.

For these reasons, the commission grants the motions to intervene of each of the following: AES, Blue Planet, COH, COM, DBEDT, FOL, Hawaii Gas, HIEC, HINA, HPVC, HREA, HSEA, HWSC, HBWS, IBEW, KIUC, KLMA, LOL, Planning Office, Paniolo, Puna Pono, REACH, Sierra Club, SunEdison, SunPower, Tahwiri, and Ulupono.

The commission also conditionally grants the motion to intervene of TASC.

 

Sep 25
2014

A few weeks ago, Hawaiian Electric submitted their proposed plans for the future of our electricity system. As the Public Utilities Commission reviews the plans, they have opened up the opportunity for the public to submit comments. Getting your opinion heard directly before the PUC usually involves participating in docket proceedings, requiring a combination of time, money, and an attorney. But for this issue, the PUC is asking for public comments directly, so we encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity to speak your mind.

The deadline for comments is Monday, October 6, 2014. Options for submitting include:

1) Email to [email protected] with the following subject line: "Public Comment – Docket No. 2014-0183 – PSIPs – [Your Name]" or "Public Comment – Docket No. 2014-0192 – DGIP– [Your Name]"

2) First-class mail to 465 S. King Street, Room 103, Honolulu, HI  96813

3) Hand-delivery to PUC office during normal business hours (Monday–Friday between 7:45am and 4:30pm)

4) E-filing

We've compiled a list of suggested comments below, but we greatlly encourage you to share your own opinions and stories with the PUC. This template provides a working format for a letter.

         Comments supporting some aspects of the plans:

  • I support a commitment to reaching more than 65% clean energy, and I believe that this shows that the current state target for renewable energy (40%) should be updated to reflect what is achievable with technology available today and in the future.
  • I support deactivating the existing oil-fired generators.
  • I support a preference for renewable energy with a known cost, over polluting fossil fuels and their volatile costs.
  • I support the use of energy storage and demand response to minimize the amount of fossil-fueled generation used on the electric grid.
  • I support using the electric grid as a way to deliver services to homes and businesses, and I believe that this is the only way for electric utilities to survive in the future. I support the installation of smart meters to achieve that goal.
  • I support the aggressive use of demand response to enable more renewable energy.
  • I support using more distributed energy, like rooftop solar generation.
  • I support more customer options and choices, like the option to sign up for community solar programs that make it possible for all residents to participate in rooftop solar energy.

Comments voicing concerns about some aspects of the plans:

  • I am concerned that the Plans propose to continue burning coal. This dirty fossil fuel has no place in our islands.
  • I am concerned with the plan to switch from oil to gas. How can a new fossil fuel be the answer to the problems with fossil fuels? I don’t want our islands to be stuck in the same place we are now, decades into the future. How can we be sure that gas is being used as little as possible, and be sure that if we import gas today, it will be replaced as soon as possible with real clean energy.
  • I want to see more solar, wind, geothermal, and ocean energy. I am concerned that the plan proposes only modest amounts of new wind energy. I am concerned that offshore wind energy, which is being used in other parts of the world, is not part of Hawai‘i’s plan.
  • I am concerned by an over-reliance on waste-to-energy and biomass burning as renewable options. While these can be a part of the energy solution, we should focus intensely on options like wind and solar power.
  • I am concerned about the plans for rooftop solar. Although tripling solar energy by 2030 sounds like a good plan, this is actually a substantial slow-down in solar installations. Consumers want rooftop solar, and the utility’s response to its customers should be to find solutions to make that possible, at a faster and faster rate.

Here are some other resources that may be helpful:

PUC Press Release Inviting Public Comment

Links to the HECO Companies' Action Plans

Blue Planet Foundation's Initial Response to HECO Companies' Action Plans

Many critical decisions will be made in the coming year that will determine the future of our energy system, its cost, and its impacts. Mahalo for taking the time to make your opinion heard!

 

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
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 [email protected]

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

Clearing the Path for Clean Energy