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Mar 03
2014
COMMUNITY SOLAR

Read our commentary published in the Star-Advertiser on Sunday, Mar. 2. Help us voice your support for community solar. Sign your name to our community panels that we'll send to legislators!

MORE LOCAL INDUSTRY NEWS

Star-Advertiser: Solar power installations up 34% in isles last year

Star-Advertiser: Support efforts to modernize electric grid

Star-Advertiser: PUC policy should favor consumers

RECENT PUC ACTION

Decision and Order No. 31964: For Approval (1) to commit funds in Excess of $500,000 for the proposed SNG System Backup Enhancement Project, (2) of the Fuel Supply Agreement, (3) of the Fuel Delivery Contract, and (4) to include the Costs of the Fuel Supply Agreement and Fuel Delivery Contract in the Fuel Adjustment Clause of The Gas Company, LLC dba HAWAI‘IGAS.

The order dismisses the request to commit funds of $950,725 to purchase three LNG ISO containers and a trailer-mounted mobile re-gasifier. The order notes that the two isocontainers, the mobile re-gasifier, and the chassis have already been purchased. In the past two years, the Commission has denied four requests by Hawaii Gas seeking retroactive approval for capital expenditures. From its order disimissing the first retroactive request: "The commision notes that such action does not appear to comply with the applicable requirement of section 2.3.f.2 that TGC file its application at least sixty days prior to the commencement of construction or commitment for expenditure, whichever is earlier. Thus, TGC proceeded at its own risk in expending funds to complete a portion of the new distribution system in the absence of the commission affirmative approval....TGC is reminded that, for future reference, it shall timely file its capital expenditure applications in compliance with section 2.3.f.2 of General Order No. 9." The order states that the commission is dismissing the latest request "because Rule 2.3(f)(2) does not apply to a situation where a utility has already made the capital expenditure."

The Commissioned approved the Supply Agreement and the Delivery Contract; stipulations are specified in the order.

 

Decision and Order No. 31908: Instituting an Investigation to Reexamine the Existing Decoupling Mechanisms for Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. Hawaii Electric Light Company, Inc. and Maui Electric Company, Limited

Decision and Order No. 31913: For Approval of Application for Waivers from the Framework for Competitive Bidding


 

Feb 03
2014

Legislative Hearings

COMMUNITY RENEWABLES

2/4, 2:45pm, Room 225:  SB2934 RELATING TO RENEWABLE ENERGY. Establishes the Hawaii community-based renewable energy program to make the benefits of renewable energy more accessible to a greater number of Hawaii residents.

Read Blue Planet's testimony here.

Submit testimony in support of SB2934 here. Or send testimony directly via email to ENEtestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov.

RENEWABLE PORTFOLIO STANDARD

2/4, 3:15pm, Room 225: SB2181 RELATING TO RENEWABLE PORTFOLIO STANDARDS. Increases renewable portfolio standards to seventy per cent by 2040 and one hundred per cent by 2050.

Read Blue Planet's testimony here.

INTERCONNECTION

2/4, 2:45pm, Room 225: SB 2656 RELATING TO THE MODERNIZATION OF THE HAWAII ELECTRIC SYSTEM. Requires the public utilities commission to adopt rules for improved accessibility to connect to the Hawaii electric system for any person, business, or entity on the Hawaii electric system. Requires the commission to initiate a proceeding no later than July 1, 2014, to discuss upgrades to the Hawaii electric system for anticipated growth of customer generation.

Read Blue Planet's testimony here.

ENERGY STORAGE

2/4, 2:45pm, Room 225: SB2932 RELATING TO ENERGY STORAGE. Establishes energy storage portfolio standards that will facilitate increased use of renewable energy and reductions of fossil fuel consumption in Hawaii, while maintaining reliable and affordable electric service. Requires the public utilities commission to evaluate the energy storage portfolio standards every five years.

Read Blue Planet's testimony here.

2/4, 3:15pm, Room 225: SB2933 RELATING TO ENERGY STORAGE. Establishes an energy storage tax credit for utility scale renewable energy storage property.

Read Blue Planet's testimony here.

2/4, 8:30am, Room 325: HB2618 RELATING TO ENERGY STORAGE. Authorizes an individual or corporate tax payer to claim a tax credit against the Hawaii State individual or corporate net income tax for each grid-connected energy storage property that is installed and placed in service in the State by the taxpayer during the taxable year after December 31, 2014. Effective July 1, 2014.

Read Blue Planet's testimony here.

2/4, 8:30am, Room 325: HB2619 RELATING TO ENERGY STORAGE. Requires the public utilities commission to establish energy storage portfolio standards. Requires reports by the Public Utilities Commission.

Read Blue Planet's testimony here.

CURTAILMENT

2/4, 3:15pm, Room 225: SB2662 RELATING TO NATURAL RESOURCES BENEATH THE SURFACE OF THE LAND. Requires agreements to purchase geothermal and nonfossil fuel generated electricity to contain provisions that provide independent power producers with compensation for excessive curtailment.

BARREL TAX

2/6, 3:30pm, Room 225: SB2196 RELATING TO ENERGY.Re-establishes the energy systems development special fund, which was repealed on June 30, 2013. Increases the amount of the environmental response, energy, and food security tax to be deposited into the environmental response revolving fund, energy security special fund, and agricultural development and food security special fund. Extends the repeal of various allocations of the environmental response, energy, and food security tax from June 30, 2015, to June 30, 2030.

Local Industry News

Pacific Business News: Larry Ellison says Lanai can show 'green energy can be economical'

Civil Beat: Lawmakers may let Public Utilities Commission keep more special fund money

Star-Advertiser: Protect ratepayers as HECO evolves

PBN: Honolulu solar PV industry showing mixed signs so far this year

Civil Beat: Is Hawaii afraid to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases?

PBN: EPA says toxic chemicals releases in Hawaii rose in 2012

Blue Planet's 2014 Policy Priorities

Read about Blue Planet's key issues at the legislature this year.

Jan 21
2014
State of the State Address

Gov. Neil Abercrombie delivers the 2014 State of the State Address at 10am on Tuesday, Jan. 21. Read the transcript.

Interisland cable public hearings: Tuesday, Jan. 21 (Honolulu) and Thursday, Jan. 24 (Kahului)

OAHU: Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, 6 pm at Farrington High School Cafeteria (1564 North King St., Honolulu)

MAUI: Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, 6 pm at Pomaikai Elementary School Cafeteria (4650 S Kamehameha Ave., Kahului)

Local industry news

Star-Advertiser: Incentivize car sharing

Star-Advertiser: Pace of solar system installation is slowest since 2010

Civil Beat: Hawaii solar sales continued strong growth in 2013

PBN: Hawaiian Electric says solar PV installations rose 40% in 2013

PBN: NextEra Energy plans large solar farm on Dole Food Co. land in Hawaii

Star-Advertiser: Firm allowed to shield data on wind project

Hawaii News Now: State: Cable will save consumers $423 million

Star-Advertiser: Undersea cable linking Maui, Oahu electric grids would save money

Civil Beat: Plans for Oahu-Maui grid connection raise questions about Lanai

PBN: Solar gardens can make everyone a winner

PBN: Energy Excelerator captures top talent to support new Hawaii startups

PBN: Solar gardens can make everyone a winner

Dec 16
2013
Dec 11
2013
Dec 03
2013
Nov 26
2013
Jun 27
2013

Governor Abercrombie has signed Senate Bill 1087 into law. The landmark legislation creates a mechanism to secure low-cost capital for clean energy projects. This financing can be used as an anchor source of funding that will help maximize participation in Hawaii's on-bill financing program, providing alternatives for renters and low-income residents who may not have access to traditional sources of private capital to pay for energy improvements. Learn more about GEMS here.

Apr 26
2013

SB1087, which estabishes a green financing loan program that can help fund on-bill financing, passed out of conference committee and is headed to the floor for a final vote. Learn more about the program here or read the Star-Advertiser article here. Our program director, Richard Wallsgrove, was there at the legislature fighting for it all the way. Go Richard!

"It's a game-changer, that's the best way to put it," said Richard Wallsgrove, program director at the Blue Planet Foundation.

"It's innovation because we're taking all of these pieces that people have figured out — rich guys in suits in New York who have figured out how bonds work to finance big projects — and rather than financing coal plants and nuclear power plants, now we're going to finance rooftop solar, energy efficiency in homes — so, things that are directly going to drive down people's bills. And anybody can sign up for it. There's no limit to the impact it could have on our energy infrastructure."

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.