The HawaiianElectric Cos. submitted to state utility regulators a vision for achieving 100%renewable energy by 2045. But the HECO utilities said they will shortly seek regulatoryapproval to import LNG for electricity generation as a bridge to a completely greenenergy future.
Their30-year power supply improvement plan update proposes near-term actions to lay thefoundation for reaching the most ambitious renewable energy goal in the nation,said HECO utilities Hawaiian ElectricCo. Inc., Maui ElectricCo. Ltd. and Hawaii ElectricLight Co. Inc.
Yet,the Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc.subsidiaries said they plan to builda combined-cycle, gas-fired plant at the Kahe Generating Station to replace threeoil-fired steam units at the Oahu Island site in 2020. Also, the utilities wantto sign a long-time LNG supply contract and convert a number of existing oil-firedgenerators to burn natural gas.
Plansalso call for using LNG in existing Kahe units 5 and 6 and to fuel the KalaeloaPartners plant in Campbell Industrial Park. In addition, LNG is proposed for theMaalaea power plant on Maui Island and the Keahole and Hamakua Energy Partners plantson Hawaii Island. LNG could potentially be used at the planned Schofield BarracksGenerating Station on Oahu and other future sites too, HECO said.
In additionto retiring units at the Kahe station, the plan calls for retiring two units atthe Waiau Power Plant on Oahu, as well as four generators that make up the KahuluiPower Plant on Maui, and one steam generator in Puna on Hawaii Island.
The gas-firedgeneration plans "are by far the least costly means of making the transitionto renewable resources, while assuring system reliability and environmental compliance,"HECO said in a news releaseannouncing April 1 filing of the power supply plan.
The HawaiiPublic Utilities Commission will now scrutinize the plan. In addition, the LNG portionof the plan depends on whether the PUC approves NextEra Energy Inc.'s acquisition of HECO for which a rulingis expected in June. HECO said it needs NextEra's financial support and expertisein order to carry out the LNG plans as presented. That is not to say it would abandonefforts to bring LNG to the islands if the merger is not approved.
"Ifthe merger does not go forward, Hawaiian Electric is still interested in pursuingthe benefits of LNG for customers, but would need to negotiate a different contract,likely with lower, delayed savings, and emissions reductions for customers,"HECO said in the news release.
The companiesare calling for partnering with customers and renewable energy developers to investin a diverse mix of renewable energy resources. The companies said they want toissue requests for proposals for a variety of renewable energy projects on the islandsof Oahu, Hawaii, Maui, Molokai and Lanai with a combined capacity of more than 350MW to be developed by 2022.
The utilitiesplan to implement a smartgrid by installing a modern wireless network, smart meters and other technologyto increase customer options, and improve the integration of distributed energyresources.
Further,the plan includes installing circuit level improvements on all islands, includingupgraded conductors, voltage regulators, transformer replacements, reconfiguredcircuits, distributed energy storage and advanced inverters.
The plancalls for microgrids at military facilities and community-based renewable energyfor customers who cannot or choose not to take advantage of rooftop solar.
Rooftop solar could become biggestresource
The utilitiesplan to increase private rooftop solar by more than 250% from current levels. Thecompanies will pursue energy storage options, including both utility-scale systemsand energy storage integrated with rooftop PV systems.
The companiesalso propose to implement a demand response management system to increase integrationof rooftop solar.
By 2045,the diverse mix of resources serving Oahu, Maui County and Hawaii Island could include1,215 MW of private rooftop solar installations, 872 MW of utility-scale solar facilities,800 MW of offshore wind developments, 529 MW of onshore wind projects, 118 MW ofgeothermal installations, 36 MW of feed-in tariff solar capacity, and 21 MW of hydropower.
Off-islandresources, such as offshore wind and the use of an interisland cable, need to bestudied further to better understand risks and costs, the companies said. "Whileinstructive for directional planning, this prediction of a renewable resource mix30 years into the future is certain to evolve as the companies adapt to take advantageof rapidly evolving technology, changing energy policy and pricing, and many othervariables," HECO said.
Futurefive-year action plans will reflect these changes. This energy plan update includeddetailed computer modeling of more than 130 different scenarios. As with the just-submittedplan, future action plans largely will require PUC approval, the utilities said.
The plancalls for achieving 100% renewable energy by 2030 on the islands of Molokai andLanai and complete renewable energy by 2040 on Maui and Hawaii Island.
Yet,providing reliable and resilient electricity service completely powered by renewableenergy will be a particular challenge because of Hawaii's small and islanded powergrids, HECO said. Still, Hawaiian Electric Co. President Alan Oshima said in thenews release it can be done. "Our plans show that a 100% renewableenergy future can be achieved," Oshima said.
Hawaiiachieved a 23% renewable energy supply in 2015. Projects and programs will lay thefoundation for further progress, HECO said. "We want to work withparties from all segments of our community — government, business, community andenvironmental groups — to refine the plans for Hawaii's energy future," Oshimasaid.
HECOpromised that inflation-adjusted electric rates can remain stable and relativelyflat overall as all these investments are made.