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Nov 07
2012

Here's a ranking of Hawaii's largest carbon polluters. Note that the top 3 sources pollute as much as the next 21!

Jul 23
2012

DBEDT recently updated their "Top 40" list of renewable energy projects that are currently underway or online. The largest is Kawailoa Wind, a 69 MW wind farm on the North Shore of O‘ahu that will produce enough energy to power 14,500 homes. On the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative website, you can also find Hawai‘i renewable energy projects mapped by island.

Jul 09
2012
Four panels discussed hot topics at this year's Hawaii Clean Energy Day at the YWCA. The issues?

-- Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) – Transitional fuel or replacement to oil?
-- Undersea Cable - Will it work? Is it worth it?
-- Is locally sourced biofuels a reality?
-- Hawaii’s Energy Efficiency & Solar Industries: Rising or setting?

The event was hosted by the Hawaii Energy Policy Forum with support from Blue Planet Foundation, Hawaii Energy, Hawaiian Electric Company, DBEDT and Think Tech Hawaii. Thanks to all the speakers and attendees!

Photos of the event are posted here .
Jun 21
2012
These girls rocked it, swapping more than 7,000 CFLs during the Big Island Bulb Blitz.

Jun 12
2012
Ivory's editorial piece on the benefits of smart meters was published in Kaua‘i's The Garden Island newspaper on Monday. Explaining how the smart grid works can turn into a pretty in-depth conversation, but that doesn't mean it's hard to understand or that it's conspiratorial. For those who prefer simplicity, here's the 5-7-5 version.

Let them do their job

Smart meters do what?
Measure electricity?
Oh, that’s what they’re for.

Burning down the house

Smart meters cause fires?
No, poor wiring causes fires.
Power 101.

Why baseload is so big

It’s frickin’ hot out!
Everyone cranks the A/C.
Gotta have power.

Demand response, part one

Someone needs extra
Borrow from ova’ dea
No need burn more oil.

Demand response, part two

Clouds wen’ block the sun?
Then unplug things for a sec.
No need burn more oil.

Time-of-use rates: You choose

Cheap nights and weekends?
Rollover power minutes?
Plug-all-you-can-plug?

May 17
2012

Posted on in Energy Policy
hawaiicapitol.jpgThe 2012 legislative session ended May 3, with mixed results for clean energy. The main three key actions taken by the legislature with Blue Planet’s support were passage of the Hawaii Electricity Reliability Administrator and the interisland cable regulatory bill, and confirmation of Mike Champley and Lorraine Akiba to the Public Utilities Commission.

Hawaii Electricity Reliability Administrator (HERA)
The priority clean energy policy this session was SB 2787, which establishes the Hawai‘i Electricity Reliability Administrator, or HERA. As more independent power producers and distributed energy systems plug into the grid, they face numerous technical, operational, and regulatory issues presented by Hawai‘i's century-old electrical system. These obstacles hinder interconnection and compromise reliability, stifling the potential of renewable energy production. The HERA policy establishes formal, objective, and verifiable reliability and interconnection standards for Hawai‘i’s electricity grids. Having an independent entity—not the electric utility—
set the “rules of the road” for reliability and interconnection would enable increased integration
of renewables and greater system predictability and resiliency. Senate Bill 2787 passed 74-1-1.

Interisland Cable Regulatory Structure
Senate Bill 2785 establishes a regulatory structure for the installation and implementation of an interisland high-voltage electric transmission cable system, bringing it under the governance of the PUC. Having a regulatory framework for the implementation of an interisland cable system will ensure more certainty and oversight in the development process. Hawaii’s islands have varying amounts of technologically acquirable renewable energy resources and an uneven distribution of electricity demand based on population and economic activity. Maui, for example, has surplus wind energy at night, while Oahu has an expanding fleet of electric vehicles that could put that energy to work. Legislation to establish a regulatory framework for the implementation of an interisland cable system can provide more certainty, stability, and oversight in the development process. By providing structure for a statewide electrical grid we can get the most out of our state's abundant solar, wind, and geothermal energy resources. Senate Bill 2785 passed 67-9 (although 15 “with reservations”).  
 
Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Appointments
The Senate confirmed the nominations of both Michael Champley and Lorraine Akiba to the PUC. We believe both will be strong advocates for aggressive clean energy regulatory policy. Mike Champley served as Blue Planet’s expert consultant for two years. During his work with Blue Planet, Champley was instrumental in identifying and suggesting modifications to practices that impede the integration of renewable energy. Champley understands the complex economic, institutional, and operational changes that must happen to enable Hawai‘i’s clean energy transition. Lorraine Akiba will bring broad experience (in public and private law sectors) and energy to the PUC while balancing the skills and expertise of the existing commissioners.  
 
Other Legislative Issues
Unfortunately, we were unable to advance some other key issues this session. Policies that fell by the wayside included reallocation of the barrel tax (and expansion to include coal), renewable energy tax credit reform, and additional PUC policy guidance (related to curtailment provisions and variable rate of return for renewable integration).  

In particular, Blue Planet spent a good deal of effort in a measure to reform the renewable tax credit, largely in response to proposed bills that would have severely reduced the credit. The challenge has been the “success” of the existing 35% credit and the explosive growth of residential and commercial PV (as well as the utility-scale
wind). It’s estimated that the credit could cost the state budget upwards of $60 million this year and
much more in 2013.

Blue Planet took a couple of approaches to this threat. First, we asked former UH economist Thomas Loudat to analyze what the credit yields to the state in terms of job creation, income tax, GET, oil savings, and other ancillary benefits. An op-ed, co-authored by Jeff Mikulina and Thomas Loudat, was published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. We then worked on formulating a new incentive structure for the tax credit—one that converts most of the more substantial incentives from investment credits to production credits (rewarding the actual renewable kWh instead of the equipment cost). This also had the effect of spreading the credit over 10 years, reducing the one-year budget hit. We made some other changes as well, ratcheting back the residential and commercial PV from 35% to 20% over 3 years, eliminating the confusing “system” caps, and sunsetting the credit in 2018 (providing a predictable glide path for the industry). Although the tax credit reforms didn’t pass this session, we had good agreement among legislative leadership and most of the key players in the renewable energy industry, setting us up for next session.
May 11
2012
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.
Mar 13
2012
The average price of a gallon of unleaded gasoline in Hawaii today is $4.40. (The national average is $3.77.) According to a AAA study conducted in February, gas prices are impacting more Hawaii household budgets; go figure. Some good news is that the state is extending EV rebates--up to $4,500 on an EV purchase and up to $500 for chargers--through Nov. 1.

This is probably a good time to analyze the benefits of driving an electric vehicle (EV) versus a car that runs on gas. Heck, in Austin, Texas, EV drivers can travel unlimited mileage each month for what we pay for one gallon of gas. Here's the breakdown..
Feb 13
2012
Jeff wrote an insightful editorial for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that calls for the state to share its blueprint for achieving Hawaii's clean energy goals. You can read it here.
Nov 03
2011

They canvassed neighborhoods. They convinced their parents to swap bulbs at work. They held exchanges at condo buildings in their neighborhood. They changed out the old incandescents on campus. They asked parents, aunties, uncles, cousins, and grandparents to get involved. And thanks to this massive group effort, the gang at Moanalua High School exchanged a whopping 6,344 C.F.L. bulbs in one month, making them the official winner of our 100,000 Better Bulbs Blitz. By the end of the blitz, they will have exchanged 8,000 bulbs. Unreal!! The school's MeneMAC group will use the funds raised to travel to the national convention of the Student Television Network this coming spring. Congratulations to advisor Lynne and the entire Moanalua High School student body!

Don't Feed the Money Monster