Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hawaii’s Utilities Moving Forward on State’s Ambitious RPS Goals


by Todd Alexander, in New York and Jacob Yaniero, in Washington, DC

Hawaii’s big utilities now have a plan for meeting the most ambitious renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in the country. The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission accepted a plan last month submitted by Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light (collectively, the Hawaiian Electric Companies) that will add significant renewable capacity to a grid that is already one of the nation’s leaders.

Under Hawaii’s RPS goals, the State is required to reach 100% renewable energy generation by the year 2045. To meet this ambitious goal, the Hawaiian Electric Companies have been working for three years to come up with a plan that carefully balances the interests of all stakeholders.

The plan, as accepted last month, is good news for developers and investors in the short-term, resulting in the acquisition of nearly 400 megawatts of new renewable energy resources by 2021, more than doubling the number of rooftop and private solar systems and facilitating procurements and RFPs in the near-term to allow tax equity investors to take advantage of the investment tax credit and production tax credit before they expire. The plan also calls for increased use of energy storage systems, demand response and various energy efficiency programs.

While the plan has caused concerns as to its high potential costs past the short-term, especially as the use of distributed generation resources continues to leave utilities with less customers to share the costs, developers and lenders should be pleased about the many opportunities that come from the plan as the State seeks to move forward quickly to meet its ambitious RPS goals.