About a year and a half ago, the island state of Hawaii proclaimed a goal of getting to 100% renewable electricity by 2045 – the first US State to make such a proclamation. In the past week, the Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO) delivered plans showing a progression to 100% renewable electricity before 2040.  In a maximum projected model – 100% was possible by 2030 when considering the excess energy generation of residential solar customers. The plan suggests that electricity rates will rise through the mid-2020s due to upgrade requirements, before they fall as the benefit of no fuel electricity pays itself off. Sometime in late 2017, HECO believes they will meet the 2020 goal of 30% renewables – and sets an agressive goal to maximize installations before the Federal Solar ITC phases out. Bravo Hawaii.

In the presentation summary (the full report: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4), the 2017-2021 goal expects the island to be at 52% renewable energy – including greater than 165,000 residential solar power systems, 360MW of utility scale solar, 157MW of utility scale wind power, 115MW of demand response plus energy storage and ‘smart solar.’ Various islands have different paces and technologies to reach their 100% – by 2020 Moloka’i will reach 100%, Hawaii 80%, Maui 63%, Lanai 59% and O’ahu 40%. HECO’s ongoing experiments with reactive solar panel level electronics are part of broader work focused high levels of solar penetration that many are developing technologies for.

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The plan is an updated version of a similar document released in April of 2016 – which itself was a response to rejection of the prior plan by the state regulators:

“The commission finds it necessary to remind the HECO Companies that as a result of their numerous, repeated failures to properly plan for an affordable, high renewable future, the commission has had to take appropriate actions to address the Companies’ poor performance,” the regulators admonished the company in the filing (Docket 2014-0183).

The commission’s concerns are as follows:

  1. Cost impacts and risks not demonstrated to be reasonable
  2. Does not aggressively seek lower-cost new utility-scale renewables
  3. Does not adequately address distributed energy resources
  4. Fossil-fueled power plant plans not sufficiently justified
  5. System security requirement costs not sufficiently justified
  6. Ancillary services proposals lack transparency and may not be the most cost-effective option
  7. Inter-island transmission analysis lacks sufficient detail
  8. Customer and implementation risks not adequately addressed

Interisland transmission lines are in consideration and were heavily analyzed showing considerable benefit, however, the report had a goal to develop a plan without these connections available. The power companies voiced a desire to support the electrification of transportation – probably one of the few ways they can increase revenue with such extensive private solar power + storage installations lowering broader demand levels. Significant amounts of biofuels are considered – I’ll predict this will shift to hydrogen and/or energy storage as costs and global capacities continue to rise.

This report is hundreds of pages long with chapter after chapter of great analysis – I’d place it nearby the recent Massachusetts State of Charge report on energy storage as an important piece of our national renewable energy knowledge base.

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