Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO) has finally secured regulators’ approval for a five-year plan to double solar and renewables to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2040.
In 2014, Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (HPUC) issued the ‘Commission’s Inclination on the Future of Hawaii’s Electric Utilities,’ which featured criticisms for a lack of cohesiveness to attain 100% renewable electricity. It was observed that the steps towards renewable energy that were proposed were uncoordinated, riddled with goal shortfalls, and negative outcome.
After some false starts, in December 2016, HECO issued a Power Supply Improvement Plan (PSIP) proposing an ambitious five-year plan to double the renewable energy penetration of Hawaii from 25% to around 52% in 2021. The PSIP is reportedly expected to facilitate Hawaii in achieving 100% of its electricity by 2040 from renewable sources with no fossil fuel assets on the islands by 2045.
The PSIP that has been approved by HPUC recently is featured with strategies and goals for energy storage, transmission upgrades, and continual feedback from communities and regulators. The solar assets (additional) include 360 MW of grid-scale solar, 326 MW rooftop, and 31 MW under a feed in tariff. The 157 MW of wind power and 115 MW of Demand Response programs are also included. Moloka’i would be the first island to go 100% renewable electricity by 2020.
The achievement of the aspirational plans will lie in the details. Meanwhile, there are issues highlighted by HPUC and various advocates, raising concerns on the installation of PV and wind power. Consumer advocates are also worried about a potential increase in electricity rates. Another concern is the mix of supporting technologies for the influx of renewables.
It is expected that as the plan moves ahead, HPUC would be reviewing the progress on a more frequent basis.