Photo by Mathayward, Dreamstime.
A wind farm on Maui.
A wind farm on Maui.
A wind farm on Maui.
A wind farm on Maui.
A wind farm on Maui.

Hawaiian Electric Plans More Renewable Energy Integration in Net Zero Plan

May 17, 2023
Comprehensive roadmap outlines steps towards net zero emissions and 100% renewable energy by 2045, prioritizing reliability, affordability, and community engagement.

Hawaiian Electric has submitted its “Integrated Grid Plan: A pathway to a clean energy future” to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), detailing the steps the company will take to achieve net zero carbon emissions and 100% renewable energy integration by 2045. The plan, currently seeking regulatory approval, emphasizes the use of local resources and aims to create resilient, decarbonized island grids that serve Hawaii's customers at the lowest possible cost.

Over the past few years, Hawaiian Electric has gathered data, engaged with stakeholders, and conducted modeling to shape the plan. The nearly 300-page document draws upon technical findings, community input and alternative scenarios based on existing technologies, while remaining flexible for future advancements.

Following the filing of the draft plan on March 31, Hawaiian Electric invited public comments until April 21. More than 300 comments were received from community members, stakeholders, technical advisory panel members, and PUC staff. The company carefully considered this feedback and provided clarifications in the report. The draft also includes an appendix documenting all comments received.

The plan focuses on a smooth transition to renewable energy while prioritizing reliable power, stable pricing and energy equity. Hawaiian Electric acknowledges that customer concerns regarding affordability and reliability are crucial, stating that the future grid must meet these fundamental needs.

Hawaiian Electric’s modeling indicates that while energy rates may initially rise during the transition, they will ultimately be lower and less volatile compared to relying on fossil fuels. The plan also predicts that the shift to renewables will alleviate the energy burden on low to moderate-income customers, as measured by the percentage of income spent on annual energy bills.

The plan outlines several near-term actions, including expanding customer options through affordable programs for energy generation, storage, and efficiency. It aims to facilitate private rooftop solar and shared solar projects for customers with low and moderate incomes. By 2030, Hawaiian Electric plans to have 125,000 private rooftop solar and energy storage systems (1,186 MW) and implement 3,400 GW-hours of energy efficiency measures across Oahu, Hawaii Island, Maui, Lanai, and Molokai.

To stabilize rates, Hawaiian Electric proposes adding large-scale renewable generation and energy storage. The company's timeline targets the incorporation of over 3,700 MW of hybrid solar, energy storage, and firm renewables by 2030. This includes evaluating bids for up to 1,340 MW from Stage 3 procurements. The addition of these resources could potentially replace over 540 MW of fossil-fuel-based generation by 2030.

Reliability will be ensured by integrating renewable firm generation, which provides on-demand energy independent of weather conditions. Hawaiian Electric is exploring geothermal, renewable hydrogen, biomass/biofuels, and ocean thermal energy conversion as potential firm generation solutions. The company will also monitor the condition of aging generators and develop contingency plans to minimize the risk of outages caused by generation issues.

The plan emphasizes community engagement and involvement throughout the development of future energy projects and grid infrastructure siting. Hawaiian Electric proposes requirements for developers to create public engagement plans and offer benefit packages to host communities.

Seeking federal funding, Hawaiian Electric aims to reduce costs for customers and enhance grid modernization and hardening efforts.

The successful implementation of the Integrated Grid Plan relies on immediate action, supportive energy policies, streamlined regulatory processes, and active community engagement. In the upcoming months, customers and communities can expect opportunities to provide input on grid infrastructure siting and participate in project proposals. Hawaiian Electric will also announce new programs to increase affordability and participation in energy generation, storage, and efficiency.

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