Hawaiian Electric: Public meeting to be held Aug. 7 on draft Grid Modernization Strategy

Hawaiian Electric on July 31 said that it will host a public meeting on Aug. 7 to solicit input and share the draft Grid Modernization Strategy, which was filed with the Hawai’i Public Utilities Commission in June, and describes the scope and estimated $205m cost to update the energy networks of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaii Electric Light over the next six years.

Public opinion gathered from the meeting and three others held on Maui and the Hawai’i Island will be included in the final plan to be submitted to the commission at the end of August, the company said.

According to the company’s website, the commission directed the Hawaiian Electric Companies to develop “a detailed Grid Modernization Strategy” that “will provide the comprehensive and holistic vision and context to inform subsequent review of discrete grid modernization project applications submitted by the companies.”

Hawaiian Electric said in its statement that highlights of the near-term work include:

  • Distribution of smart meters strategically rather than system-wide, for instance, to customers with private rooftop solar on saturated circuits and customers interested in demand response programs, variable rates, or electricity usage data
  • Reliance on advanced inverter technology to enable greater rooftop solar adoption
  • Expanded use of voltage management tools, especially on circuits with heavy solar penetration to maximize circuit capacities for private rooftop solar and other customer resources
  • Expanded use of sensors and automated controls at substations and neighborhood circuits
  • Enhanced outage management and notification technology

According to the draft plan, nearly 80,000 privately owned rooftop solar systems push electricity onto the grid for delivery to other customers.

“The steady, one-way flow of electricity that was the norm for more than a century is now a dynamic, two-way stream of power, shifting back and forth between the customer and the utility,” the draft plan said. “Without real-time data, visibility and control, operators can only estimate how much power these systems are feeding into the grid; they can’t manage it and they have no way of ‘seeing’ into circuits to identify and avert situations that can affect the reliable delivery of power to customers.”

While most of the lines, transformers and substations that are the backbone of the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ grids are strong, those and other components are aging, the draft plan noted.

New technology will help more than triple the amount of private rooftop solar, make use of rapidly evolving products – including storage and advanced inverters – and incorporate a vast array of sophisticated energy management tools, such as demand response, the draft plan said.

The work required to update the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ energy network in the next six years will help the five islands served by the companies achieve a renewable portfolio standard of 48% by 2020, and ultimately 100% by 2045, the draft plan said.

As noted in a July 17 Hawaiian Electric statement, the commission has accepted the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ Power Supply Improvement Plan Update that charts the near-term actions that will lead to 100% of Hawai’i’s power generation needs coming from renewable resources by 2045. That plan describes several key goals, including acquisition of almost 400 MW of new renewable energy resources by 2021, according to the statement.

According to the draft Grid Modernization Strategy, the companies recognize the need for continuing grid evolution to affordably meet customers’ needs and Hawai’i’s RPS goal. Creating a modern grid will require an ongoing integrated grid planning process that integrates bulk system resource planning with transmission and distribution planning to assess total resource net benefits, the draft plan said.

The companies are proposing that that integrated grid-planning process should be conducted every two years using the analysis framework and methods employed in the companies’ recent Power Supply Improvement Plans (PSIP), combined with additional information regarding incremental grid infrastructure costs that would enable new types and quantities of distributed energy resources (DER).

According to the PSIP submitted to the commission last December, the PSIP accelerates the pace on the path to 100% renewable energy. The PSIP said that “[t]he Action Plans” include to exceed Hawai’i’s 2020 RPS and achieve a consolidated RPS of 52% over the next five years; enable Moloka’i to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2020; and aggressively seek grid-scale renewable resources, leveraging federal tax credits.

According to the draft Grid Modernization Strategy, a possible framework that encapsulates the integrated grid planning needs and enhanced stakeholder engagement is called “C3GP,” for Comprehensive, Customer-Focused, and Cooperative Grid Planning. In concept, that process would evaluate a five-to-10-year planning horizon, the draft plan said, noting that a planning cycle would be completed every two years and should, in an integrated fashion, consider the needs at all levels of the system: customer, bulk power resources, transmission, and distribution.

In an ongoing integrated grid planning process, enhancements to distribution planning will be needed, not unlike those already done by the companies for resource and transmission planning in the recent PSIP, the draft plan said. In such a planning process, grid modernization investments are identified to address one or more of four categories: improved reliability, safety and/or operational efficiency; integrated DER adopted by customers or RPS goals; utilized customer DER or merchant DER to provide services to the system; and investments to support a customer’s or group of customers’ unique needs, according to the draft plan.

Among other things, the draft plan noted that going forward, the companies will look to identify and assess anticipated and large grid modernization investments in relation to the benefits of the distributed resources forecast as part of the overall resource mix of renewables toward Hawai’i’s 100% goal. That will integrate DER and incremental grid modernization costs into the overall prospective integrated grid planning process, the draft plan said.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3286 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares was TransmissionHub’s chief editor until August 2021, as well as part of the team that established TransmissionHub in 2011. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial from 2005 to 2011. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines.