Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) has revealed its latest plan charting a 30-year course on how Hawaii could meet the state’s aggressive 100% by 2045 renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which was passed last year. The plan focuses largely on grid modernization and, of course, renewable energy.
HECO and its subsidiaries – Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light Co. – submitted the Power Supply Improvement Plan Update to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for review. Notably, the utility companies say that based on the updates, they could collectively increase private rooftop solar by more than 250% from current levels and 370% over 2014 levels, when the companies’ last plans were prepared.
According to HECO, Hawaii already achieved more than 23% renewable energy in 2015, and the path to 100% renewables will continue with five-year action plans to maintain the momentum by developing projects and programs. Some of these action plans, which largely require PUC approval, include the following:
– Implementing a smart grid by installing a modern wireless network, smart meters and other enhanced technology to modernize the state’s existing power grid, increase customer options, and improve the integration of distributed energy resources.
– Issuing requests for proposals for projects for a variety of renewable energy projects with a combined capacity of more than 350 MW to be developed by 2022. With PUC approval, these projects would be developed through a competitive process.
– Implementing a demand response management system to provide customers with more options and to increase integration of rooftop solar.
– Implementing community-based renewable energy in order to allow customers who cannot or choose not to take advantage of rooftop solar to receive the benefits of participating in a renewable energy program.
– Pursuing energy storage options, including both utility-scale systems, energy storage integrated with rooftop PV systems, and pilot programs evaluating new technologies.
The plan also focuses on microgrids, liquefied natural gas and the retirement of “utility generation that is not ideally suited to support the integration of renewables.”
According to HECO, the energy plan update includes detailed computer modeling of more than 130 different scenarios that could possibly meet the ambitious 100% renewable energy goal. The plan says that, by 2045, the diverse mix of resources serving Oahu, Maui County and Hawaii Island could include the following:
– 1,215 MW of private rooftop solar energy;
– 36 MW of feed-in-tariff solar energy;
– 872 MW of utility-scale solar energy;
– 529 MW of onshore wind energy;
– 800 MW of offshore wind energy;
– 21 MW of hydropower; and
– 118 MW of geothermal energy.
“Our plans show that a 100 percent renewable energy future can be achieved,” comments Alan Oshima, president and CEO of HECO. “We want to work with parties from all segments of our community – government, business, community, and environmental groups – to refine the plans for Hawaii’s energy future. And while the vision remains the same, a 30-year plan to get there will naturally change given the rapid development of new technology, changing policy and costs, and other factors.”