Hawaiian Electric Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hawaiian Electric Industries proposed plans for Hawaii’s energy future that will lower electric bills, give customers more service options and nearly triple the amount of distributed solar while achieving the highest level of renewable energy in the nation by 2030.
The companies’ planned state-of the-art electric systems for Oahu, Maui County, and Hawaii Island will form the foundation for this new energy future. The plans are meant to address the comprehensive orders issued by the Public Utilities Commission in April.
“Our energy environment is changing rapidly, and we must change with it to meet our customers’ evolving needs,” said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric Vice President of Corporate Planning and Business Development. “These plans are about delivering services that our customers value. That means lower costs, better protection of our environment and more options to lower their energy costs, including rooftop solar.”
Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaii Electric Light will support sustainable growth of rooftop solar, expand the use of energy storage systems, empower customers by developing smart grids, offer new products and services to customers and switch from high-priced oil to lower cost liquefied natural gas.
As part of the PUC’s recently opened distributed generation docket, the companies will support policies that ensure fairness to all customers. This includes fair pricing both for customers who generate power, but who also rely on the company for additional electricity and/or backup, as well as those who remain full service utility customers.
Energy needs not met by renewables will largely be met with cleaner and less expensive liquefied natural gas (LNG). Most existing oil-fired generating units will be converted to run on LNG. Older generating units will be deactivated by 2030 as new, more-efficient, quick-starting LNG fueled generators come online.
Achieving this transformation requires significant upfront investment by the utilities and unaffiliated companies to build the flexible, smart, and renewable energy infrastructure necessary to continue to provide reliable service to customers. Customer bills are expected to decline, with some fluctuations, by an estimated 20 percent by 2030.
Hawaii’s energy environment is changing more rapidly than anywhere else in the country. Currently, in Hawaii, more than 18 percent of the electricity used by customers comes from renewable resources, ahead of the state goal of 15 percent by 2015. Hawaii has one of the most diverse renewable energy portfolios in the country, including solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, biofuel, and hydroelectric sources of power. Ocean power is also a promising option for the future.
The companies look forward to working closely with key stakeholders throughout the community to refine these plans further.
“This plan sets us on a path to a future with more affordable, clean, renewable energy,” said Dick Rosenblum, Hawaiian Electric president and CEO. “It’s the start of a conversation that all of us – utilities, regulators and other policymakers, the solar industry, customers and other stakeholders – need to be a part of, as we work together to achieve the energy future we all want for Hawaii.”
Press Release, August 27, 2014; Image: HEI