Maui News

UH and Hawaiian Electric Collaborate on ‘Green Tariff’ To Benefit Campuses and Community

December 9, 2020, 2:40 PM HST
* Updated December 9, 2:42 PM
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File photo of a solar energy storage system paired with a solar photovoltaic system on Kaua’i. Photo Courtesy: energy.gov.

The University of Hawai‘i and Hawaiian Electric have collaborated on an innovative renewable energy initiative to help the university achieve its net-zero energy goal and bring online more cost-effective, renewable energy resources to benefit the entire state.

A request for review and approval of the “green tariff” was submitted to the Public Utilities Commission.

The initiative aims to develop a project to lower energy costs for the university and increase renewable energy generation for the state. Hawaiian Electric hopes other large institutions will be able to benefit from similar projects identified through competitive bidding that provide renewable electricity at lower rates.

“Moving to cost-effective renewable electricity is a core priority for the university and we were pleased to be able to work collaboratively with Hawaiian Electric on the design of this ‘green tariff’ program,” UH President David Lassner said. “Our goals are to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, lower our utility bills, and fulfill our leadership responsibility and commitment to the future for our students, the university and Hawai‘i.”

Key elements of the proposed program include:

  • The university will provide a project location at no cost for a renewable energy facility. A university-utility working group is evaluating sites for possible renewable development.
  • Hawaiian Electric will seek independent developers who will compete to offer the best proposals to build a renewable facility, including energy storage, on that land to provide power to the utility grid on O‘ahu.
  • The university will benefit from the lower costs provided by renewably generated and stored electricity produced by the facility. All customers benefit from the availability of an energy storage system on the O‘ahu grid that can be used, as needed, by Hawaiian Electric.
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“The University of Hawai‘i is a leading institution in our state and one of our largest customers,” said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president of customer service. “We’re confident the ‘green tariff’ will help the university and our state achieve their clean energy goals and we look forward to collaborating with other large institutions that want to reduce their carbon footprint as well as their energy costs.”

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This effort supplements the university’s continuing effort to promote energy efficiency and to use distributed energy resources such as rooftop solar, demand-response grid services and other measures. Under Act 99 (2015) the University of Hawai‘i has the goal “to become net-zero with respect to energy use, producing as much (renewable) energy as the system consumes across all campuses by Jan. 1, 2035.”

Under Act 97 (2015) the Hawaiian Electric Companies must meet a 30 percent renewable
portfolio standard (RPS) by 2020; 40 percent by 2030; 70 percent by 2040; and 100 percent by Dec. 31, 2045. By the end of this year, Hawaiian Electric will exceed the 30 percent RPS.

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