HECO files energy plan just before deadline

Expectations high for HECO energy plan
Published: Aug. 20, 2014 at 9:41 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 27, 2014 at 10:02 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaiian Electric Companies late Tuesday afternoon filed what can be described as a massive energy transition plan with the Public Utilities Commission.

HECO submitted the plan just minutes before the deadline.  The plan includes ways to improve access to rooftop solar and reduce the use of fossil fuels.   “Our energy environment is changing rapidly and we must change with it to meet our customers' evolving needs,” said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric vice president of corporate planning and business development. “These plans are about delivering services that our customers value. That means lower costs, better protection of our environment, and more options to lower their energy costs, including rooftop solar.”

The following is from a HECO news release:

Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawai'i Electric Light Company will:

Support sustainable growth of rooftop solar. Working closely with the solar industry, the companies are, by 2030, planning to almost triple the amount of distributed solar using fair and equitable plans. A clear, open planning process will let customers and solar contractors know how much more solar can be added each year. Grid enhancements will make possible increased integration of solar power. And optimized control settings for solar equipment will improve safety and reduce the risk of power outages.

As part of the PUC's recently opened distributed generation docket, the companies will support policies that ensure fairness to all customers. This includes fair pricing both for customers who generate power but who also rely on the company for additional electricity and/or backup, as well as those who remain "full-service" utility customers.

Expand use of energy storage systems. Energy storage systems, including batteries, will increase the ability to add renewables by addressing potential disruptions on electric grids caused by variable solar and wind power. Hawaiian Electric is evaluating proposals for energy storage projects on O'ahu to be in service by early 2017. Energy storage projects are also in the works for Maui, Moloka'I, Lanai and Hawai'i Island.

Empower customers by developing smart grids. Fully developed smart grids, already being test deployed on O?ahu, will help customers monitor and control their energy use, enable more customer service options, make service more reliable, and improve integration of renewable energy. The companies are proposing to complete installation of smart grids in Maui County and on Hawai'i Island by the end of 2017 and on O'ahu by the end of 2018.

Offer new products and services to customers. Community solar and microgrids will give customers new options for taking advantage of lower-cost renewable energy. Voluntary "demand response" programs will provide customers financial incentives for helping manage the flow of energy on the grid.

Switch from high-priced oil to lower cost liquefied natural gas. Energy needs not met by renewables will largely be met with cleaner and less expensive liquefied natural gas, or LNG. Most existing oil-fired generating units will be converted to run on LNG. Older generating units will be deactivated by 2030 as new, more-efficient, quick-starting LNG fueled generators come online.

A plan filed in April was rejected by the PUC which ordered HECO to start over. The new plan is hundreds of pages long.  HECO is expected to address the media Wednesday about it. 

HECO Plan Links:

The PUC says it will immediately begin its evaluation of the filings to determine if HECO's action plans are consistent with the Commission's April orders and the State's energy goals.

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