• Hawaii’s HECO will go ahead with proposed 247 MW solar power capacity with storage component for 6 solar power projects as approved by the state Public Utilities Commission
  • As per the approval, 3 projects will be developed on Oahu island, 1 on Maui and 2 on Hawaii
  • 5 MW/50 MWh storage ad 15 MW PV/60 MWh projects are still under consideration
  • PUC has also paved the way for the utility’s grid modernization plans, under which rooftop solar systems are likely to benefit

The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) of Hawaii has given its approval for 6 solar plus storage projects in the region as per the proposal submitted by Hawaiian Electric (HECO) in January 2019. The original proposal was for 7 projects with 262 MW cumulative capacity and 1,048 MWh of energy storage (see HECO Planning 262 MW Solar+Storage Projects).

Among those approved and representing 247 MW of solar power, 3 projects will be developed on Oahu island, 1 on Maui and 2 on Hawaii Island, each with a battery storage system to store power for 4 hours of energy. They are meant to reduce fossil fuel consumption during peak demand periods.

All the approved projects will sell power for a pre-determined cost per kWh on long-term basis. Among these is the 52 MW/208 MWh Hoohana Solar 1 on Oahu Island to be developed by 174 Power Global. Since it is planned to be located on prime agricultural land, the developer will be solely responsible for site control and securing all necessary permits.

HECO says there are 2 additional projects that are still under regulatory review. These are a 12.5 MW PV/50 MWh storage project in West Oahu and 15 MW/60 MWh on Maui island.

Grid modernization plan approved

The PUC has also approved the first phase of a 4-year $86.3 million grid modernization plan submitted by the utility. HECO plans to deploy latest digital technology to manage electric grids on the 5 islands and transform the one-way flow of electricity system into a two-way stream of power shifting back and forth between customers and the grid. Primarily, it will help expand the amount of private rooftop solar and also incorporate storage and advanced inverters in the scheme of things.

In the first phase, HECO will deploy advanced meters to enable consumers to take advantage of private rooftop solar programs and variable rates. “The cost of the first phase for a typical residential customer on Oahu would be 24 cents a month; Maui, 34 cents; Molokai and Lanai, 27 cents; and Hawaii Island, 55 cents,” HECO said in a statement.

HECO is aiming to achieve 100% renewable energy for itself by 2040, which is 5 years ahead of the state’s target (see HECO’s 100% RE Plan Approved). In 2018, the 3 entities that make up HECO, achieved a consolidated 27% renewable portfolio standard (RPS).