Hawaiian Electric rolls out TOU rate pilot program
Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) has begun signing up customers in a pilot program that charges customers less for electricity consumed when solar power is abundant, and more at night, Pacific Business News reports.
On the Big Island of Hawaii the current rates of nearly $0.30/kWh would drop to about $0.10/kWh during midday hours, and on Oahu rates could drop from about $0.24/kWh to about $0.15/kWh. Consumption would be more expensive when solar is not generating. Rates of the Big Island would be above $0.42/kWh during evening peak demand hours, and on Oahu they would be about $0.37//kWh.
The voluntary program is limited to the first 5,000 customers and will run for two years. Complete rate listings are available on the HECO website.
Hawaii’s high retail electric rates have made solar power so popular and created such a flood of solar power on the grid that the state ended its net metering program. Net metering was replaced by a grid-supply or self-supply option, but by September caps on the grid-supply option were being reached.
The state’s main utility is now looking to a time-of-day rate scheme that was approved by the PUC in September as a way to better utilize the state’s solar resources. Under the two-year pilot, consumption would be significantly more expensive when state's largely oil-powered conventional generation has to operate, and less when solar is feeding back into the grid.
Altering customer demand patterns could help the state integrate more central station renewables as well. Because HECO cannot control the amount of rooftop solar coming onto the grid, it must often curtail the generation of large-scale renewables during peak solar hours.
Better utilizing existing renewables with consumer incentives and storage technologies are expected to be critical in helping Hawaii achieve it's 100% renewable energy mandate by 2045. TOU rates could also help spur the adoption of residential batteries, allowing consumers to store rooftop solar for later use and take advantage of the so-far unpopular self-supply solar tariff.
The pilot time-of-day rate plan comes as HECO is preparing to request a 6.5% rate hike for its Hawaii Electric Light subsidiary.
- Pacific Business News Hawaiian Electric unveils rates for new time-of-use program
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