- The Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) asked the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (HPUC) to open a docket to approve its issuance of a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) for renewable energy projects on Oahu. This is, HECO said, an early step toward meeting the state’s 100% renewables by 2045 mandate.
- The RFP would also be an important step toward meeting targets designated in the five-year renewables action plan defined in HECO’s Power Supply Improvement Plan (PSIP) update filed with the PUC in April, the utility added. The commission is reviewing the PSIP.
- The RFP will stipulate the projects must be on Oahu and must be online by the end of 2020. Once the docket is opened, the PUC will appoint an independent observer to oversee the procurement and to collaborate with HECO on the RFP’s technical, operational, and performance requirements.
Hawaii was obtaining over 23% of its electricity from renewables at the end of 2015. But HECO’s intention with the PSIP is “to change the paradigm so that renewables do not supplement the system but are the entire energy system,” Vice President Colton Ching told Utility Dive recently.
The two-volume, 1,200-plus page PSIP filing (docket 2014-0183) provides details of the planned power supply mix on each of the state’s islands. Overall, its preferred plan calls for Hawaii’s 2045 electricity generation mix to be composed of 16.1% distributed solar, 10.2% utility-scale solar, 33.4% onshore and offshore wind energy, 26.9% biofuels, 6.5% geothermal energy, 6.5% waste and biomass, and 0.4% hydropower.
The utility intends to exceed Act 97 requirements by getting to 100% renewables on Molokai and Lanai by 2030 and by 2040 on Maui and Hawaii Island. That will achieve its 70% system-wide renewables target by 2040. It will then scale Oahu, the most populous island, up to 100% renewables, according to the PSIP.
Opponents say the PSIP relies on natural gas as a bridge to the 100% mandate. While the Hawaiian Electric grid relies on fuel oil and diesel for most of its firm generation today, the utility wants to begin importing liquefied natural gas and retrofit its power system to run on the resource, all before phasing it out before 2045.
Just how HECO would replace that LNG remains an open question. In the PSIP, much of the retiring LNG capacity near 2045 is slated to be filled with "future alternative resources" — technologies yet to be developed. How Hawaii regulators rule on the PSIP and LNG import proposals will determine the future of HECO's renewable energy plans.