Hawaiian Electric Continues to Strive for Renewable Energy

March 2, 2019, 9:38 PM HST · Updated March 2, 9:38 PM
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The Hawaiian Electric Companies achieved a 27% renewable portfolio standard in 2018, even with the loss of Hawaiʿi Island’s geothermal resource for most of the year following the Kīlauea volcanic eruption.

According to Hawaiian Electric, the loss of geothermal did not set them back in their effort to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2045. The 2018 consolidated renewable portfolio standard (RPS) remained the same percentage as it was in the previous year. The consolidated number would have been 29% had the Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) produced at the same level as the year before.

Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaiʿi Electric Light are well on their way to achieving the next mandated RPS milestone, 30% by 2020, according to Hawaiian Electric. The RPS was only 9% a decade ago. The companies’ annual use of fossil fuels dropped by about 19% over the past decade.

The RPS represents the renewable energy that customers use as a percentage of total utility sales. Hawaiʿi Electric Light, with the mix of geothermal through May of 2018, solar, wind, and hydroelectricity, was at 44%, down 13% from the year before. According to Hawaiian Electric, the RPS would have reached 64% if PGV was online for the full year. Maui Electric recorded 38%, a  4% rise from the year before, and Oʿahu reached 22%, a 1% rise from the year before.

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The companies also track the peak renewable energy production for the year. These peaks are typically achieved on sunny, windy days when the demand for electricity is low and renewable production is high. The peak on Hawaiʿi Island was reached at 79% of electricity demand was met by renewables. The peak was 80% on Maui and 58% on Oʿahu.

Last year, two projects, Kuʻia Solar and South Maui Renewable Resources, came online on Maui last year. These were the islandʻs first grid-scale solar arrays. Regulators on Molokaʻi approved the islandʻs first large-scale solar-plus-storage renewable project, New Energy Partners.

A 20-megawatt West Loch Solar facility will come online in ʻEwa on Oʻahu this year, as will three Clearway Energy solar facilities, totaling 110 MW. According to Hawaiian Electric, power purchase agreements for seven solar-plus-storage facilities on Oʿahu, Hawaiʿi Island, and Maui were filed with regulators last year, laying the foundation for the largest surge in renewable energy in state history. By 2022, Hawaiian Electric expects that there will be more than 4.4 million solar panels delivering energy to the grid.

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