Hawaii regulators approve HECO's suite of demand response, solar programs
- After two years of technical and financial analysis, the Public Utilities Commission has approved a slate of demand response programs that Hawaiian Electric Co. says will allow it to use a "broader, more high-tech approach" to grid management by controlling customer equipment through wireless networks and advanced metering.
- In addition to the demand response programs, the PUC also approved two new rooftop solar programs for HECO: Smart Export and Grid Supply-Plus, the latter of which also includes the utility taking control of customer equipment. Both will be available by Feb. 20.
- HECO's plan will help move it toward meeting the state's 100% renewables by 2045 mandate. The programs align with the utility's grid modernization "strategy," it said in a press release. HECO filed a grid modernization plan last year that would invest in advanced metering and other grid management technology that would help it integrate higher penetrations of renewable energy.
HECO is developing programs to enable appliances, electric vehicles, solar panels and battery storage system to all work in concert as part of its effort to reach the state's ambitious renewables goals.
The utility will initially offer the demand response programs on Oahu and Maui, and expand to other islands down the road.
HECO said the demand response program could potentially shift hundreds of megawatts of energy from homes, linking to a variety of resources that include residential battery storage systems and electric vehicles. HECO said the programs will also incentivize customers to charge their contraptions depending on the needs of the grid. Third parties will be authorized to enroll customers, and aggregate and optimize the resulting demand response capabilities.
The approval also included a pair of new solar programs, similar to two others the utility proposed last year. The so-called Smart Export would give customers credits on their electric bill for exporting energy during peak hours from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m. There would be no incentive to send energy back to the grid during typical solar production hours, when energy is already abundant.
Compensation amounts varies by island. For example, Oahu customers would be credited $0.1497/kWh; Hawaii Island would credit customers $0.11/kWh; and on Lanai, the credits are $0.2079/kWh.
The new Customer Grid-Supply Plus program is a variant of HECO's popular Customer Grid-Supply that reached capacity last fall. The program offers new rates and allows the companies to measure, monitor and control CGS Plus systems to maintain grid stability. On Oahu, credits would be $0.1008/kWh.
Follow Robert Walton on Twitter