Important policy direction for the state is set through the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, the county energy plans, and other entities. Brief descriptions and links to further resources are provided below.
Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative
Major HCEI policy initiatives were signed into law in 2009, including:
- 40% Renewable Portfolio Standard required by 2030, and
- 30% (4,300 GWh) Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard required by 2030.
The following reports have been completed under HCEI:
- HCEI policy recommendations, developed by the initiative’s working groups in conjunction with the Department of Energy;
- NREL Clean Energy Policy Analysis technical report was released in April 2010;
- Under HCEI, the U.S. Department of Energy commissioned step-by-step permitting guidebooks to lay out federal, state, and county requirements for bioenergy, solar, marine, wind, waste to energy, hydroelectric, and geothermal projects; and
- The HCEI partnership also helped lay the groundwork for a 2008 Energy Agreement signed by the State of Hawaii, the HECO companies, and the Division of Consumer Advocacy.
At the 2010 HREDV Tech Enterprise conference, government leaders discuss various investments which the government utilizes to support the renewable energy market and, in the second video, government’s role in supporting innovation.
Hawaii Public Utilities Commission
The Commission website provides information on open dockets that relate to electricity regulation, a document management system, and a full calendar. Commission actions that have a significant impact on clean energy deployment in Hawaii are discussed below.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY PORTFOLIO STANDARDS (EEPS):
On January 3, 2012, the Commission issued an EEPS Framework D&O that approves a Framework for achieving the goal of 4,300 GWh of electricity use reductions statewide by 2030. The 4,300 GWh figure was derived by calculating 30% of the sum of the baseline electricity sales forecasts from the HECO Companies’ third Integrated Resource Planning IRP processes and KIUC’s 2005 IRP, extrapolated to 2030. The Framework sets annual goals of 195 GWh, 5-year performance periods, and establishes a Technical Working Group (TWG) consisting of both commission-regulated and non-regulated entities to work together toward achieving the EEPS.
INTERCONNECTION (RULE 14H):
On November 29, 2011, the Commission issued an Interconnection D&O that significantly improves Hawaii’s distributed generation interconnection procedures, known as Rule 14H. The interconnection process was revised to include nine objective technical screens, reducing the scrutiny of the initial review process for smaller generators, and introducing a supplemental review process allowing generators that meet requirements to avoid more intensive study. Revised Rule 14H provides a clear application timeline, and requires interconnection requirements studies (IRS) to be completed within 150 calendar days of the time a customer agrees to proceed with the IRS and pays for the study. A full summary of major revisions in the D&O is provided in the Commission’s Rule 14H news release.
FEED-IN TARIFF (FIT):
The DSIRE website offers a summary of FIT rates, with additional details through the HECO Feed In Tariff Program. In 2012, the Commission has issued several orders related to the state’s feed-in tariff. Most recently, the Commission extended an administrative hold on the FIT and confirmed that all systems must apply for a building permit on the same day or prior to filing a FIT application. Also, the baseline FIT rate was lowered and the FIT will undergo its first full re-evaluation by the end of the 2012.
In October 2010, the Commission issued a Decision and Order (D&O) establishing pricing, terms & conditions, and queuing and interconnection procedures for Tier 1 & 2 technologies. In November 2011, the Commission issued a D&O for Tier 3 technologies.
On August 31, 2010, the Commission issued a Decoupling Decision and Order, which will change the utility revenue model – basically disassociating utility profits from its sales of electricity so that the utility is not penalized for Hawaii’s conservation and efficiency measures. Decoupling also further opens the door for renewable energy from independent power producers by changing the financial incentive system for the utility. In addition, the Commission revised the utility planning process, in which Clean Energy Scenario Planning replaces the current Integrated Resource Plan process.
In 2009 at the direction of the Hawaii Legislature, the Commission moved the energy efficiency programs on Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii Island from the utility companies to an independent administrator. Through SAIC, the Commission has created Hawaii Energy, a ratepayer-funded energy conservation and efficiency program that conducts education and training to residents, businesses, and trade allies (contractors) to encourage the adoption of energy efficient behaviors and efficiency measures. Their website lists rebates, as well as state and federal tax credits for energy products.
On December 30, 2009, the Commission issued a REIP Decision and Order approving, with conditions, the Renewable Energy Infrastructure Program surcharge for HECO, HELCO, and MECO. This surcharge will help the utilities fund clean energy investments.
What do these PUC actions mean for Hawaii businesses?
- The Commission’s FIT decision is likely to determine the future of solar, wind, and hydropower in the state in the near term – at least for small projects. Since the FIT also simplifies interconnection requirements and increases access to the grid, it will be an important enabler for companies with distributed generation technologies.
- The Clean Energy Scenario Planning may have more of a direct impact on the utility and on the public involvement process than on clean energy companies – though there are likely to be some changes in the infrastructure planning process than could impact queuing and pricing for energy developers.
- Rebates and incentive programs are likely to continue to evolve as the Public Benefits Fee Administrator assesses which energy efficiency strategies are most cost effective and appropriate for Hawaii’s buildings and equipment.
- The Hawaii interconnection process has moved significantly closer to best practice. The interconnection process for small distributed generation systems has been streamlined to facilitate increased renewable energy penetration on the grid. Determination on two issues related to supervisory control provisions and frequency regulation was delayed for a later order (see IREC’s website for further details).
County Energy Plans
The counties have been moving forward with energy plans and projects specifically tailored to their communities’ needs and visions. The counties have set aggressive goals and timeframes for a fundamental transition to a clean energy economy.
The Hawaii Legislature Website, which contains up-to-date hearing and bill information during legislative session.
The Hawaii Energy Policy Forum, funded by the State of Hawaii and organized by UH, hosts briefings and conducts studies on emerging policy questions.
Blue Planet Foundation directs a number of outreach and educational programs, and also mobilizes support for important clean energy policy issues.
The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency has comprehensive and up-to-date summaries of Hawaii state policies as well as other federal and state policy developments. The DSIRE website provides a number of summary maps and tables presenting policy information across the U.S. Their Renewable Portfolio Standard map is shown below, as well as a widget for finding energy incentives.