Hawaii regulators approve HECO plan to go all renewable by 2040

Hawaiian Electric Co. won regulatory approval to go ahead with its plan to power 100 percent of its complicated, multi-island grid with renewable energy by 2040.

The Hawaii Public Utility Commission finally gave the thumbs up for HECO’s power supply improvement plans across the islands. The deal, though, could raise rates on customers by as much as 44 percent, according to reports.

“The commission is confident that many of the companies’ proposed near-term actions pertaining to renewable energy development are supported by sound analysis and are consistent with state energy policy and prior commission orders,” the HPUC’s decision reads.

“These proposed actions include company-wide plans for competitive procurement of grid-scale renewable sources, successful implementation of the community-based renewable energy program, demand response and distributed energy resource programs,” the order continued, “and certain utility actions to improve the reliability of each island grid.”

The commission, however, rejected HECO’s requested projects on proposed conventional generation plants, utility-owned energy storage, synchronous condensers and certain transmission projects. HECO first brought the case to the commission in 2014.

The utility and its units, including Maui Electric, must provide additional reports on its planning approach to the goals. Planning, according to the commission, must include advanced resource optimization models, customer and third parties.

“Finally, future planning efforts must continue to actively engage stakeholders and incorporate their constructive input,” the order reads.

Former HPUC chair Hermina Morita told another publication that achieving those goals could cost ratepayers plenty over the next few decades. The utility, however, has not added a rate increase for six-plus years, according to reports.

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