Catharine Lo

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Dec 23

Decoupling (2013-0141)

Filing, Dec. 20: Blue Planet Foundation's Statement of Position on Schedule A Issues

PPA Approval between HELCO and Hu Honua Bioenergy: Decision and Order No. 31758

On Dec. 20, the PUC issued its approval of a Power Purchase Agreement for Renewable Dispatchable Firm Energy and Capacity between HELCO and Hu Honua Bioenergy. It is notable that while the PUC approved this renewable generation, it comes with strings attached: HELCO must also provide a Power Supply Improvement Plan to retire fossil generations and increase the incorporation of other renewables through storage and demand response. Many of the PUC's directives were informed by the RSWG (Reliability Standards Working Group) process that Blue Planet was heavily involved in.

Key points of the order:

-  The Commission approved the PPA with a levelized energy payment rate of 25.3 cents, noting that it will provide “firm, dispatchable, renewable energy [and] ancillary services” (see p. 48). It will also provide economic benefits to HELCO ratepayers (see p. 50).
-  The Commission orders HELCO to file a Power Supply Improvement Plant within 120 days of this order, which shall include (i) a fossil generation retirement plan, (ii) a generation flexibility plan, (iii) a must-run generation reduction plan, which will analyze the “costs of HELCO’s current must-run designation policies,” and (iv) a generation commitment and economic dispatch review, which shall include a description of the “methodology by which HELCO incorporates energy storage or demand response” into its economic dispatch process.

-  The Commission cautions HELCO that it "must not accord preferential treatment to utility-owned generation resources versus Independent Power Producers where the IPPs are more fuel-efficient and economic than utility generation." (See p. 110.)

-  The Commission concludes that "HELCO should re-examine its existing generation unit commitment and economic dispatch practices to ensure that: (1) the selected mix of firm and as-available resources will minimize energy costs; (2) non-traditional sources of ancillary services, such as energy storage and demand response, are considered and, if lower-cost, utilitized to supply these services; and (3) curtailments of renewable energy resources, where necessary, are accomplished in a cost-effective manner from the perspective of ratepayers." (See p. 112.)
-  The Commission concludes that “HELCO has the responsibility to make major changes to both its existing fossil generation portfolio and its current power supply operational practices in order to reduce power supply costs and to provide significant customer rate relief.”  (See p. 120.)
-  HELCO must plan to “expeditiously retire older, less efficient fossil generation, reduce must-run generation, increase generation flexibility, and adopt new technologies such as energy storage and institute operational practice changes, as appropriate to enable integration of a diverse portfolio of additional low cost renewable energy resources that are uniquely available on the Island of Hawaii.” (See p. 120.)
-  The Commission notes that it seeks actionable strategies and implementation plans rather than “numerous technical analyses that conclude additional studies are required.” (See p. 121.)

Denial of biodiesel supply contract between HELCO and Aina Koa Pono-Ka‘u: Decision and Order No. 31759

-  On Dec. 23, the PUC issued its denial of a biodiesel supply contract between HELCO and Aina Koa Pono for approximately sixteen million net United States gallons annually of locally-produced biodiesel over twenty years. As stated in the order:

The commission, based on its extensive review, finds and concludes that HELCO and HECO have not met their burden of proving that the subject contract is reasonable and in the public interest. The commission's decision is supported by the findings and conclusions set forth in this Decision and Order, including, but not limited to, the following:

1. The contract price for the AKP-produced biofuel is excessive and not cost-effective at present and for the foreseeable future, and thus, is unreasonable and inconsistent with the public interest.

2. The commission's approval of the contract will likely require that HELCO dispatch its Keahole combined cycle generation units in an uneconomic fashion (i.e., in uneconomic dispatch mode), and thus, the contract has the potential to displace or curtail more economical, existing renewable energy resources or restrict the additional of other new low-cost, fixed price renewable energy projects.

3. The evidence regarding the external benefits of the AKP Project is not sufficient to support a finding that the contract is reasonable and in the public interest.

HELCO's Geothermal RFP

Notice from HELCO re: RFP for 50 MW of Dispatchable Renewable Geothermal Firm Capacity Generation, Dec. 20: "After careful review of all geothermal bids, Hawaii Electric Light has determined that none of the submitted bids sufficiently met both the low-cost and technical requirements of the Geothermal RFP. We are currently working with the Independent Observer to develop a request that will be sent to the bidders. The request will give the bidders the opportunity to provide additional information so that we can make an informed decision that is in the best interests of our customers and residents and that meets the goals of the Geothermal RFP. These goals include lowering customer bills, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, allowing for continued integration and management of intermittent renewable resources, maintaining reliability of service, and protecting the health and safety of the public and environment. We appreciate the efforts the bidders have made to date and look forward to working with them and the Independent Observer on next steps." 

Local industry news:

SF Chronicle: Officials say Big Island biofuel plan too costly

PBN: Eight new projects make the Hawaii Clean Energy Leaders list

Star-Advertiser: PUC blocks HELCO buy of biofuel, citing cost

Star-Advertiser: Biofuel firm says HELCO contract not needed for plan to work

Civil Beat: Hawaii regulators approve Big Island biomass plant

Pacific Business News: Aina Koa Pono's supply contract with HELCO denied—again

Hawaii Tribune-Herald: HELCO: Bids don't meet requirements for geothermal contract

Pacific Business News: PUC OKs Hu Honua Bioenergy's contract with Hawaii Electric Light Co.

Scientific American: A solar boom so successful, it's been halted

International Business Times: Solar power growing pains: How will Hawaii and Germany cope with the boom in alternative energy?

Dec 18

Jeff's remarks from this morning's press conference:

We commend the Governor, his team, Johnson Controls, and all who worked to make this record-setting energy savings project a reality. Projects of this scale require not only the vision, but hard work, collaboration, and innovative financing to make them work—so our congratulations to all for putting the pieces together.

This project will have a large solar component, but I’d like to highlight the energy savings aspects of these improvements. We know the cheapest electricity is the electricity you don't buy. We like to joke that energy efficiency isn’t a free lunch—it’s a lunch you are paid to eat.

Now energy efficiency is not only the cheapest, but it is also Hawaii's cleanest and fastest new energy resource.

Now we hear a lot about the great progress that Hawaii has made with renewables, like wind and rooftop solar. But guess what? The largest source of clean energy in the past year wasn’t wind, or solar, or geothermal—it was energy efficiency. That’s exactly how we need to view energy savings—as a new energy resource, one we harvest just like the sun or the wind.

As my mother used to remind me, a penny saved is worth two in the bush.

And we win twice with energy efficiency: every kilowatt hour avoided is fossil fuel that we don’t have to pay for—and carbon pollution that are children don’t have to pay for.

This airports project will demonstrate the power of efficiency in enabling high-impact facilities to improve performance while eliminating waste.

It is both suiting and symbolic for Hawaii's airports—the gateways for Hawaii residents and visitors—to be models of clean energy use. Again, Blue Planet applauds the Governor, his Administration, and the private sector partners who are making this record-setting energy savings project a reality.

Dec 16
Dec 11
Dec 03
Nov 26
Nov 12

Energy news round-up:

The new face of HECO - Pacific Business News, Nov. 15

Solar Farm Surprise? HECO Won't Say Where It's Putting New Huge Energy Projects - Civil Beat, Nov. 12

Molokai Ranch plan for energy independence - Presented at Molokai Clean Energy Initiative meeting, Oct. 29

2013 Election Key Votes to Watch – Results - Sustainable Business, Nov. 12

Philippines blames climate change for monster typhoon -, Nov. 11

Blue Planet filings:

1. DECOUPLING (2013-0141)

Nov. 12  Blue Planet's Statement of Position

2. Blue Planet was part of the Hawaii Refinery Task Force and submitted comments/revisions for the Draft Interim Refinery Closure Report prepared by ICF International. Our comments make the following key points:

  • The Draft Report Focuses on LNG, to the Exclusion of Other Market-Ready Options. The Draft Report Does Not Analyze the Impact of LNG on Refinery Operations. The Draft Report’s LNG Analysis is Flawed. The LNG Analysis and Appendices Should Therefore be Omitted.
  • The Draft Report’s discussion of environmental regulations is flawed.
  • Subjective Descriptions Must be Replaced With Objective Analyses.

View our comments here.

Nov 05

News round-up:

PBN: Hawaiian Electric seeks OK for 6 more renewable energy projects

Star-Advertiser op-ed by Alex Tiller of Sunetric: Solar gardens aim to offer PV for all

Star-Advertiser Letter to the Editor from Sen. Mike Gabbard: Bill would help cut electric costs


Integrated Resource Planning - Docket 2012-0036

Nov. 4: Zilkha Biomass submits comments stating that "Zilkha can provide a less expensive fuel than the options discussed in the IRP at a lower overall capital cost."

Oct 04

Blue Planet is proud to announce the upcoming launch of WEfficiency, a crowdfunding platform that enables supporters to fund energy efficiency purchases for their favorite nonprofits. Here's the beautiful twist: Funders will get their money back once the energy savings have paid off the cost of the purchase. Thanks to the "power of efficiency," every donation can be recycled into another! What better way to support Hawaii's nonprofits? If you know of a nonprofit that might be interested, encourage them to sign up today.

  The Concept: WEfficiency helps Hawai‘i nonprofits unlock the benefits of energy efficiency.

Through WEfficiency’s online crowd-funding platform, nonprofits will be able to secure pledges from a “crowd” of supporters to pay for energy efficiency upgrades—for example, solar water heaters, ENERGY STAR appliances, high-efficiency lighting—that will yield immediate monthly cost savings. When the crowd raises enough to fund a proposed efficiency upgrade, WEfficiency gathers the pledged support to make the purchase. The nonprofit uses a portion of its energy cost savings each month to quickly repay the crowd. Funders can choose to make a loan (the supporter gets his $$ back after the purchase is repaid) or double-down their donation (the funder recycles his $$ as a standard monetary donation). After the purchase is paid off, the nonprofit can devote its energy cost savings to furthering their good mission.

The Benefits. Participating nonprofits will see multiple benefits: 

1.     Save money. Monthly energy savings allows nonprofits to do more of the great work they do for our communities.

2.     Expand donor base. Efficiency uses innovative crowd-funding to engage a new type of donor – savvy individuals looking for a fresh way to be philanthropic.

3.     Earned media. WEfficiency has already enjoyed national recognition via the Clinton Global Initiative. The upcoming launch will combine the reach of traditional media with the engagement power of social media.

The Concept: WEfficiency helps Hawai‘i nonprofits unlock the benefits of energy efficiency.

For more information or to sign up, please contact David Aquino at or call 808-954-6146.

Oct 03


PUC filing: Blue Planet Foundation’s Reply Statement of Position on Integrated Resource Planning Matters


The purpose of this informational briefing is to receive an update from the Hawaiian Electric Company on recent changes to its solar photovoltaic grid interconnection policies, the justification for the change, and how solar installers and consumers will be affected.


Monday, October 14, 2013


1:00 p.m.


Conference Room 325

State Capitol

415 South Beretania Street

The following organizations will give presentations:

·         Hawaiian Electric Company

·         Hawai‘i Solar Energy Association

·         Hawai‘i PV Coalition

·         Interstate Renewable Energy Council


Related news:


California's AB 327 Officially Signed into Law


Community Solar to Double Minnesota Solar Output