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