- Hawaii regulators approved a half dozen large-scale renewable projects and the first phase of Hawaiian Electric's (HECO) grid modernization plan, decisions the company says will enable "foundational" changes on the electric grids of five islands.
- The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on Monday approved HECO's four-year, $86.3 million plan to install digital technology across its territories, allowing the utility to develop a "dynamic, high-technology platform" that can provide real-time data on two-way power streams.
- On the same day, regulators approved six grid-scale solar-plus-battery storage projects, all priced at $0.10/kWh or lower, making it the "largest and lowest-cost portfolio" of renewables assembled at one time in the state, according to HECO. Three projects will be located on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island.
It's been just over two months since HECO submitted seven large renewables projects, and the quick approval on most of them reflects the urgency with which Hawaii is moving to reimagine and decarbonize its grid
"We really appreciate the PUC moving so quickly to review and approve these projects, which enables the developers to meet the aggressive schedule that was set up to take advantage of federal tax credits," HECO Senior Vice President Jim Alberts said in a statement. "The sooner these projects are delivering energy to customers, the sooner they'll see savings."
The projects will add 247 MW of solar energy, and each is coupled with energy storage to provide almost 1 GWh in total. The state wants to reach 100% renewables by 2045, though it is currently reliant on imported fossil fuels and has the highest electricity prices in the nation.
Costs associated with the new solar+storage projects are "significantly lower than the current cost of fossil fuel generation," said HECO, which is estimated at about $0.15/kWh.
The approved renewables projects will all supply energy at $0.10/kWh or lower.
|Project Name||Island||Developer||Size||Storage||Cost per kWh|
|Waikoloa Solar||Hawaii||AES||30 MW||120 MWh||$0.08|
|Kuihelani Solar||Maui||AES||60 MW||240 MWh||$0.08|
|Hale Kuawehi||Hawaii||Innergex||30 MW||120 MWh||$0.09|
|Mililani I Solar||Oahu||Clearway||39 MW||156 MWh||$0.09|
|Waiawa Solar||Oahu||Clearway||36 MW||144 MWh||$0.10|
|Ho'ohana Solar 1||Oahu||174 Power Global||52 MW||208 MWh||$0.10|
SOURCE: Hawaiian Electric, Hawaii PUC
Two other projects are still under review by regulators, said HECO. Those are a 12.5 MW array in West Oahu that will include a 50 MWh storage system, and a 15 MW array on Maui that will include a 60 MWh storage system.
On the grid modernization side, HECO said the PUC's approval will help the utility to expand the amount of private rooftop solar, utilize more storage and advanced inverters, and "incorporate a vast array of sophisticated energy management tools, such as demand response."
The first phase of the grid mod program, which launches this year, includes deployment of advanced meters for customers with rooftop solar and variable rates.
"[T]he commission wishes to make clear that the companies may deploy more advanced meters, faster and more broadly than they propose … and should consider doing so," regulators wrote in the order.
HECO said it also plans to launch of a meter data management system that will allow customers to monitor and manage their energy usage, and will implement a telecommunications network to work with advanced meters and field devices on grid monitoring, control and automation.