Blue Planet is extremely active at the PUC on a number of critical policy dockets. Here's an update on works in progress:
Feed-in Tariff (Docket No. 2008-0273)
The Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program is now oversubscribed (180 MW requested for the 80 MW program), marking successful implementation of this keystone energy policy. The FIT program Independent Observer and HECO Companies continue efforts to monitor the queue to prevent unqualified projects from taking capacity from qualified projects. On May 4, 2012, the HECO Companies filed a motion for clarification seeking the further abilities to manage the queue by removing projects. Blue Planet supports addressing these issues by expanding the FIT program to allow more projects and improving the grid to address reliability concerns. The Commission has ordered a review of Tiers 1 and 2 in October 2012 which will allow Blue Planet to advocate for further expansion and improvements to the FIT program.
Rule 14H (Docket No. 2010-0015)
The new version of Tariff Rule 14H, which substantially improves grid access by reducing the need for costly and time-consuming interconnection requirements studies, remains in effect. Motions for reconsideration threatened by the HECO Companies and Consumer Advocate did not materialize. Blue Planet is now shifting its focus to further improvements to Rule 14, based in part on improvements to California’s Rule 21.
Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standards (Docket No. 2010-0037)
On January 3, 2012, the Commission issued its final decision and order adopting the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standards (EEPS) framework. The Commission subsequently closed the docket and established a Technical Working Group (TWG) to implement the EEPS. The TWG members include the utilities, Hawaii Energy, and government agencies. Blue Planet successfully petitioned the Commission to join the TWG and is playing an active role in
implementing the EEPS Framework as a member of the TWG.
On-Bill Financing (Docket No. 2011-0168)
In December 2011, the Commission retained consultant Harcourt Brown & Carey to design Hawaii’s on-bill financing (OBF) program. On December 30, 2011, however, the HECO Companies filed a proposal for a solar water heating “Simply Solar” OBF program. The Commission subsequently consolidated the Simply Solar proposal with the OBF docket. On April 16, 2012, the consultant filed its assessment of the Simply Solar proposal. Blue Planet filed
its brief on the Simply Solar proposal on May 7, 2012. The timing of a Commission decision on Simply Solar is unclear. On April 16, 2012 the Commission also issued an order amending the procedural schedule under which the docket is to conclude in approximately April 2013. Blue Planet agreed to pay up to $200,000 for the costs of the on-bill financing study for the docket, $100,000 of which was paid in 2011. Fortunately, the total cost was $167,275, the balance of which ($67, 275) was paid in the first quarter of 2012.
Reliability Standards (Docket No. 2011-0206)
Blue Planet continues to be an active participant, leader, and driving force in the Reliability Standards Working Group (RSWG), which was established to identify reliability standards and resolve issues pertaining to the expansion of renewable energy in the HECO Companies' service territories. The purpose of the RSWG effort is to recommend reliability standards, metrics, rules, criteria and processes to determine how the maximum amount of renewable
generation can be interconnected to the grid while preserving grid reliability. Bash Nola, acting as Blue Planet’s consultant, is chair of the Reliability Standards Drafting subgroup. Bash is also active member of the Reliability Data and Metrics subgroup which is addressing metrics and defining ancillary services and requirements, the Minimum Load and Curtailment subgroup which is addressing minimum load/curtailment issues and mitigation measures, the Gap Analysis subgroup which is addressing current studies underway to increase the penetration of renewable energy resources, including distributed PV generation, and defining system mitigation measures to achieve this increased penetration, and the PV subgroup which is specifically addressing PV integration and interconnection issues. The efforts of the RSWG are targeted to be completed by year end with a set of recommendations to be forwarded to the PUC. These efforts will foster understanding of what is required to achieve maximum renewable energy resource penetration, the modernization of the existing HECO utilities’ generating assets, the costs (including production costs), and the impacts to consumers/ratepayers.
Integrated Resources Planning (Docket No. 2012-0036)
On March 1, 2012, the Commission issued an order initiating the Integrated Resource Planning process for HECO, HELCO and MECO. The order, which has been anticipated since last fall, tracks the requirements of the March 14, 2011 IRP Framework adopted in the Docket No. 2010-0108. The IRP process presents a significant opportunity for Blue Planet to advance planning for Hawaii’s clean energy future, in conjunction with the Blueprint. Under the Framework, HECO must file an IRP Report and an Action Plan which covers all three utilities. The Commission has selected Carl Freedman to serve as the Independent Entity overseeing the process. Blue Planet and other parties wishing to serve on the IRP Advisory Group must apply by June 8, 2012.