Regulation, Utilities, Regulation, Solar, Sourcing Renewables, Wind  -  January 3, 2017

Hawaiian Electric to hit 100% renewables by 2040

In a recent filing with state regulators, Hawaii's largest utility outlines its plans for increasing its use of renewable energy to meet 100% of the state's power needs by 2040. 

If achieved, the goal would be reached by Hawaiian Electric Co. five years earlier than required by Hawaii's renewable portfolio standard, which calls for the state to be powered entirely with renewable generation by 2045. Hawaii legislators set that standard, the highest of any U.S. state, in June 2016. 

Hawaiian Electric Co., or HECO, is a subsidiary of Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc., and operates three utility subsidiaries — Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawai'i Electric Light — that are collectively known as the Hawaiian Electric Companies.

The company in late December 2016 submitted an updated version of its "power supply improvement" plan to Hawaii's Public Utilities Commission, which describes greater and faster expansion of the companies' renewable energy portfolio than in the plan filed in April 2016. The plan also emphasizes work that is in progress or planned over the next five years on each of the five islands the Hawaiian Electric Companies serve.

HECO said in a news release that the plan also stresses the need to remain flexible so that decisions made today don't crowd out future technological advances in power generation, distribution and storage.

According to the news release, the utility companies forecast that they will exceed the state's renewable energy milestones in 2020 and can exceed the state-mandated milestones in 2030 and 2040 by attaining a renewable portfolio standard of:

  • 48% by the end of 2020; the mandated goal is 30%;
  • At least 72% by the end of 2030; the mandated goal is 40%;
  • At least 100% by the end of 2040; the mandated goal is 70%. This would be five years ahead of the 2045 deadline to reach the goal of 100%renewable energy.

The plan estimates that the RPS after 2030 could exceed 100 percent when taking into account customers' generation of electricity for their own use as well as the anticipated widespread use of battery storage. In the near-term, using a proposed mix of solar, wind, battery storage and biofuels, the plan aims to achieve an RPS of 100% on Molokai by 2020. 

Also by 2020, Hawaii Island is forecast to reach an RPS of 80%, Maui 63%, Lanai 59% and Oahu 40%, according to HECO. The plan includes the continued growth of private rooftop solar, and forecasts the addition of 360 MW of grid-scale solar, 157 MW of grid-scale wind and 115 MW from demand response programs.

"We have a solid plan that accelerates our progress to get to 100 percent renewable energy. We can do this," Hawaiian Electric president and CEO Alan Oshima said in a statement. "We want to work with parties from all segments of our community — government, business, community, and environmental groups — to refine the plans for Hawaii's energy future."

Hawaiian Electric Industries in July 2016 called off plans to be acquired by Florida-based NextEra Energy Inc., one of the country's largest investor-owned power and utility holding companies, after state regulators rejected the proposal. 

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