- The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission last week approved Hawaiian Electric Co.'s $205 million grid modernization proposal after rejecting previous versions of the plan for being too costly.
- HECO says the plan includes near-term benefits that also will prepare the grid to run on all-renewable energy as part of the state's mandate to shift to 100% renewables by 2045.
- The approval followed an order to greenlight HECO's proposed demand response programs that will allow it to control customer equipment through wireless networks and advanced metering.
Hawaiian regulators have signed off on HECO's grid modernization plan after rejecting previous iterations of the plan for its costliness or that it did not go far enough to integrate renewables. The state is in the middle of trying to meet its ambitious renewable energy goal, and the island is home to some of the highest electrical rates in the nation.
The revised plan scales back on the installation of advanced metering, now taking a "surgical" approach.
The grid modernization plan goes hand in hand with HECO's demand response programs and new solar programs, which were approved at the same time.
The plan calls for "strategic distribution of advanced meters rather than system-wide," HECO said in a statement, with the smart meters being installed for customers who want to participate in demand response programs or a variable rate plan.
HECO said the plan is designed to focuses on near-term improvements to provide immediate customer benefit, while also preparing the grid for an all-renewables future. The utility's plan relies on advanced inverter technology, and expanded use of voltage management tools, particularly on circuits with heavy solar penetration. HECO will also install enhanced outage management and notification technology.
Along with the grid modernization plan and 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.