Hawaiian Electric Co. recently announced plans that will lower customer electric bills by 20 percent. It will also give customers more service options and nearly triple the amount of distributed solar while achieving the highest level of renewable energy in the nation—more than 65 percent—by the year 2030.
Newly planned state-of the-art electric systems for Oahu, Maui County and the island of Hawaii will form the foundation for this energy future. This initiative addresses orders issued by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
“These plans are about delivering services that our customers value,” said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric vice president of corporate planning and business development. “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. Working with the solar industry, the companies are planning to nearly triple the amount of distributed solar by 2030. A clear, open planning process will let customers and solar contractors know how much more solar can be added each year. Grid enhancements will make increased integration of solar power possible, and optimized control settings for solar equipment will improve safety and reduce the risk of power outages.
Energy-storage systems will be expanded, including batteries that will increase the ability to add renewables by addressing potential disruptions on electric grids caused by variable solar and wind power. Hawaiian Electric is evaluating proposals for energy-storage projects.
Hawaiian Electric will deploy fully developed smart grids. Community solar and microgrids will give customers new options for taking advantage of lower cost renewable energy. Voluntary demand-response programs will provide customers financial incentives to help manage the flow of energy on the grid.
Energy needs not met by renewables will largely be fulfilled with liquefied natural gas (LNG). Most existing oil-fired generating units will be converted to run on LNG, while older units will be deactivated by 2030 as 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, but Hawaiian Electric says customer bills will see a 20 percent decrease by 2030.