The University of Hawaii (UH) and utility company Hawaiian Electric have committed to collaborate on development of a renewable energy initiative to help the university achieve its net-zero energy goal and bring online more cost-effective, renewable energy resources to benefit the entire state.
The partners say the initiative aims to develop a “green tariff,” subject to approval by the Public Utilities Commission, for projects that would increase renewable energy generation, improve grid capacity for renewables and lower energy costs for the university. If projects identified through competitive bidding are able to provide renewable electricity at lower rates, the new green tariff would be made available to other similar institutions in the future.
“Moving to reliable and cost-effective renewable electricity is a core priority for the University of Hawaiiʻi,” says UH President David Lassner. “Working collaboratively to reduce both our dependence on fossil fuels and our utility bills is an essential part of fulfilling our leadership responsibility and commitment to the future of our students, our university and Hawaiiʻi.”
Jan Gouveia, UH vice president for administration, adds, “The university is excited to explore a ‘green tariff’ as a valuable component of our energy resource plans, especially if it allows renewable energy generated at off-site university properties to serve various campus locations. The agreement to collaborate was developed by university and Hawaiian Electric representatives who met to discuss ways in which campuses could reduce their energy bills while contributing to the state’s goal of replacing fossil fuels for electricity with 100 percent renewable resources by 2045.”
Under the non-binding memorandum of understanding, a joint university-utility working group will develop a model tariff, eligibility requirements, cost structure and other details.
“The University of Hawaiiʻi is a leading institution in our state and one of our largest customers,” says Alan Oshima, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric. “Our continuing collaboration over many years has benefited our community. This latest initiative will help the university, our community and our customers as we strive for our common clean energy goals.”
The working group will evaluate sites for possible renewable energy development, concentrating first on utility-scale projects that would offset energy use at UH’s Mānoa campus. The group will also consider technologies currently on the market, such as combined solar systems with energy storage, to supply cost-effective renewable energy and provide all utility customers with system-wide benefits including service reliability and resilience.
These efforts supplement the university’s continuing efforts to promote energy efficiency, distributed energy resources such as rooftop solar PV, demand-response grid services, and other measures to achieve the net-zero goal. Under Act 99 (2015), UH has the collective goal “to become net-zero with respect to energy use, producing as much [renewable] energy as the system consumes across all campuses by Jan. 1, 2035.”
Under the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), Hawaiian Electric – including subsidiaries Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light – must meet a 30% renewables target by 2020; 40% by 2030; 70% by 2040; and 100% by Dec. 31, 2045. By the end of this year, the utility company expects to exceed a 27% RPS.
Photo courtesy of the UH website