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Waipio Solar Project Completed

The Department of the Navy, Pacific Energy Solutions, LLC, Hawaiian Electric Company, and the Hawaii State Energy Office celebrated the completion of a 14.3 megawatt direct current solar facility at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) Waipio Peninsula in Hawaii.

The completion of the project was commemorated in a ribbon cutting ceremony today on JBPHH. Notable ceremony presenters and attendees included Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander of Navy Region Hawaii; Rear Adm. John Korka, commander of Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific and U.S. Pacific Fleet civil engineer; John Kliem, executive director, DON’s Resilient Energy Program Office; Capt. Stanley Keeve Jr., commanding officer, JBPHH; Ron Cox, senior vice president of Operations at Hawaiian Electric; and Dr. Terrence Surles, interim administrator of the Hawaii State Energy Office.

“Our Navy is tough during wartime and while preserving peace. That same level of determination drives day-to-day problem-solving as well as our approach to energy security. We are bold in our thinking – embracing innovation and new technologies, just as we have done throughout our history. Our senior leaders empower us and expect us to be adaptive, resilient and forward-thinking. That applies to both our nation’s defense and to our commitment to energy security,” said Fuller.

Pacific Energy Solutions built, and will own, operate and maintain the solar facility on JBPHH, and the installation will be the sole consumer of the power produced by the photovoltaic facility under a contract referred to as a Power Purchase Agreement.

“We are pleased to be part of the Waipio solar project and to help the Navy achieve its clean energy goals,” said Matt Handel, vice president of Development for NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, whose subsidiary purchased the membership interest in Pacific Energy Solutions.

The project will contribute to the DON’s diverse energy portfolio, ensuring more secure and resilient operations at JBPHH. It also shows the continued partnership with the state of Hawaii, following last year’s Memorandum of Understanding between the DON and the state, which coordinated goals and strengthened the partnership between both organizations in the pursuit of additional renewable energy in the state of Hawaii.

“The State of Hawaii commends the Navy for its leadership in making the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Waipio Peninsula solar facility a reality. This project is a testament to our shared vision with the Navy and other branches of the military on energy security and self-sufficiency. It will take a genuine commitment on the part of all stakeholders to achieve our clean energy goals, and high-impact projects like this are an important part of that effort,” said Luis P. Salaveria, director of the State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

The DON continues to improve readiness, combat effectiveness and flexibility through initiatives that focus on energy reliability, resiliency and efficiency.

Self-Supply Solar a New Option for Homeowners

A new kind of rooftop solar system that enables households to generate their own electricity and to potentially store energy for use after the sun goes down is now being approved by the Hawaiian Electric Companies and installed on island homes.

Tesla Solar PaneThe new systems, believed to be the first of their kind in the U.S., are being installed under Hawaiian Electric Companies’ Customer Self-Supply Program, an alternative to the popular Customer Grid-Supply Program.

The systems are being developed specifically for the Hawaii market and use new inverter technology to provide power to the home but prevent any excess electricity from being exported to the grid. That’s important because, unlike the interconnected power grids on the mainland, there’s a physical limit to the amount of electricity that can be put on island grids at any given moment.

A growing number of these self-supply systems, including products sold by SolarCity, Sunrun, Vivint Solar and RevoluSun, now meet the specifications set by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Hawaiian Electric has been working with these companies to develop standard technical specifications that will qualify systems for an expedited approval and potentially faster installation.

The PUC created the Customer Self-Supply Program as an alternative to the grid-supply program, especially once the grid-supply capacity limits established by the commission were met.

The island’s first approved self-supply rooftop system was recently turned on at a home in Honolulu. Sixteen others on Oahu have been approved by Hawaiian Electric. Maui Electric has approved seven self-supply systems that are awaiting installation.

“Generating electricity, storing it, and using the energy on-site is the new normal. This product will help make the grid stronger and more reliable,” said Jon Yoshimura, director of policy and electricity markets for SolarCity, which recently installed a self-supply system with batteries at a home in Manoa.

“Hawaiian Electric has been an effective partner, working with us to streamline the approval process for this new product. We look forward to bringing more Smart Energy Home solutions to Hawaii, which will help the state achieve its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045.”

The Customer Grid-Supply program, which credits customers for the excess electricity they send to the grid, is still available on Oahu, though space is going fast. Maui Electric recently reached the capacity limit set by the PUC and Hawaii Island is nearing the limit, but self-supply is available.

For Oahu customers who choose the grid-supply program, Hawaiian Electric recommends a “right-sized” system calculated for the household’s actual energy use rather than an oversized system designed mainly to sell electricity to the grid.

Oversized systems cost more and can potentially export more electricity than the homeowner will receive credit for on their electric bill, since credits expire at the end of each month. Also, the more large systems that are installed on each island, the less room that will be left on the grid for customers who may want to install solar in the future.

“It’s been five years since rooftop solar really took off in Hawaii and more than 77,000 customers have made the choice to use it,” said Jim Alberts, senior vice president of customer service at Hawaiian Electric. “The shift to self-supply is an important evolutionary step to ensure that the rooftop solar option remains sustainable, cost-effective and available to some of the 85 percent of customers who don’t have it.”

For more information, including how to right-size a system, go to https://www.hawaiianelectric.com/clean-energy-hawaii/going-solar

Electric Company Responds to Recent Power Interruptions

Hawaii Electric Light reports that customers in various areas around the island experienced brief power interruptions this week.

Hawaiian Electric Company Logo

The interruptions occurred on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday evening when a unit at the company’s Keahole Power Plant tripped offline. An estimated 12,000 customers were without power for about five minutes each time until backup generators were started.

“We understand that power outages are disruptive, and we sincerely apologize to our customers who were inconvenienced by these interruptions,” said spokeswoman Kristen Okinaka.

Managing an electric utility grid is a challenging and intricate process. It requires carefully balancing generation with load. Most utility grids occasionally experience a sudden loss of generation. This could occur when a generator unexpectedly trips offline or when weather conditions significantly reduce the amount of energy produced from renewable resources.

Hawaii Electric Light’s system operators work hard to maintain the reliability of the grid. However, when generation changes very quickly, protective devices automatically disconnect loads to help maintain service for the majority of customers. This is called Under Frequency Load Shedding. Some customers will experience a temporary, short power interruption while backup generators are started.

“We appreciate our customers’ patience during the past week,” Okinaka said. “We want to assure our customers that we have sufficient generation to continue to serve our community.” Updates on power outages and restoration efforts can be found on Hawaii Electric Light’s Twitter account: @HIElectricLight. To report a power outage, please call (808) 969-6666.

Hawaii Ranked 7th in Solar Electric Power Association Analysis

The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) this morning named the Top 10 American electric utilities that in 2013 added the most new solar power to their systems and the most solar on a watts-per-customer basis.

Watts

This annual ranking, which identifies the companies that are integrating solar into the nation’s power grid, is part of the seventh annual Utility Solar Rankings report.

The full report, which will be released in June 2014, identifies leading solar industry trends such as total installed capacity, market share and industry growth rates.

Utilities ranking in this year’s SEPA Top 10 by Solar Megawatt accounted for 82 percent of all capacity integrated in 2013, up from 73 percent in 2012.

The top three leading implementers of utility solar in the Megawatt rankings hail from the western half of the United States:

  1. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)
  2.  San Diego Gas and Electric Company (SDG&E)
  3. Arizona Public Service (APS).

Rounding out the Megawatt list are:

  • Southern California Edison (SCE)
  • Duke Energy Progress
  • National Grid
  • Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G)
  • Hawaiian Electric Company
  • Georgia Power
  • Duke Energy Carolinas.

Six of the ten utilities were previously ranked in 2012. Newcomers to the list include Duke Energy Progress, National Grid, and Georgia Power. This is the sixth year that Pacific Gas and Electric Company has topped the list.

“We are firmly committed to renewable energy and solar is a vital part of California’s energy mix,” said Steve Malnight, PG&E’s Vice President of Customer Energy Solutions. “Given both PG&E’s large-scale solar procurement and our customers’ ongoing support of solar and other clean technologies, we are confident we will continue to be a renewable energy leader.”

The SEPA Top 10 Solar Watts-Per-Customer rankings take into account the number of customers each utility serves relative to its solar megawatts installed, giving small utilities a   means to measure the relative intensity of their solar energy capacity on an equal footing with any other utility, regardless of size.

Leading the Solar Watts-Per-Customer rankings is Sterling Municipal Light Department (SMLD), a public power utility in Massachusetts that serves 3,700 customers. Following Sterling is San Diego Gas and Electric Company (SDG&E), and a second public power utility, Silicon Valley Power. The remaining Top 10 providers include Arizona Public Service(APS), Hawaiian Electric Company, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Hawaii Electric Light, Maui Electric Company, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC), and Imperial Irrigation District (IID). In the Solar Watts-Per-Customer rankings the Hawaiian utilities and Imperial Irrigation District from California were in the top ten in 2012 as well.

“We are very excited to be receiving recognition for our solar program,” said Sean Hamilton, general manager, Sterling Municipal Light Department. “We owe the success of the program to our entire community of staff, supporters and partners.  The Sterling Light Commission, employees, Sterling Selectmen and Planning Board, our business partners, E.H. Perkins, CES Sterling LLC, INDU Solar Holdings, groSolar, as well as many others, all played a role in creating a public-private partnership that included an educational piece for our local schools. This achievement is something the whole town can be proud of for many years to come.”

“We are thrilled to see milestones surpassed and barriers broken from coast to coast,” said Julia Hamm, president and CEO of SEPA. “It’s truly inspiring to see utility partners and their consumer communities rally around implementing solar programs that are changing the nature of our national energy portfolio.”

For additional information:

The complete rankings can be found here

Oahu Residents to Get Small Refund From Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO)

Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO), subsidiary of Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. announced today that electric customers on Oahu will receive a small refund as the result of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) final decision in Hawaiian Electric Company’s 2011 rate case.

The total estimated refund is approximately $800,000 including interest, although Hawaiian Electric must still finalize and submit to the PUC for review the detailed calculations. The company estimates a typical residential customer using 600 kilowatt-hours a month will receive a refund of 85 cents, which includes interest since July 2011 when the original interim increase was approved.

The refund will be issued in the form of a credit on customer electric bills. The timing will depend on the customer’s normal billing cycle. The refund credit is expected to start showing up in bills sent out in August.

Aside from the refund, the PUC’s ruling will not have any further impact on the amount Oahu customers currently pay for electricity. This is because the decision finalizes the remaining interim rates which are already reflected on customers’ bills.

The majority of the final 3.4% increase was approved by the PUC and included in rates almost a year ago in July 2011, with the remainder effective in April 2012.

Department of Health Cites Five Companies with Air Permit Violations

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) Clean Air Branch has issued notices of violations and orders against five companies located on Hawai‘i, Kaua‘i, Maui and O‘ahu for air permit violations.

The violations were either self-reported, or discovered during an inspection.

The following companies were cited:

  • Tesoro Hawai‘i Corporation (Tesoro) for various opacity violations on the vacuum unit charge heater, package boiler, and crude heater No. 1 and 2. Tesoro is a crude oil distillation facility with a capacity of 95,000 barrel per day and is located in Campbell Industrial Park, O‘ahu. The violation was self-reported and a penalty of $26,700 has been assessed. Currently, negotiations are being conducted regarding a consent order.
  • Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. Waiau unit 8 for an opacity exceedence on September 1, 2011. The six-minute opacity average was 68 percent during an unscheduled equipment shut down, which exceeded the opacity permit limit of 60 percent. The Waiau generating station is located in Pearl City, O‘ahu. The violation was self-reported and a penalty of $6,000 has been assessed. Currently, negotiations are being conducted regarding a consent order.
  • O. Thronas, Inc., dba Kaua‘i Aggregates for failing to conduct the 2010 annual performance tests for opacity on the 700 ton per hour stone quarrying and processing plant located at Halewili Road, Wahiawa, Kaua‘i. The violation was discovered during an annual inspection, and a penalty of $5,100 has been paid for the violation.
  • Kohala Coast Concrete and Precast, LLC. for various permit violations on the 170 cubic yards per hour concrete batch plant located at Kawaihae, Hawai‘i. The violation was discovered during a complaint investigation and a penalty of $5,300 has been assessed.
  • Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (HC&S) for burning approximately 25 acres of Field 716 on November 4, 2011 without prior DOH written approval. HC&S operates a sugar refinery located at Puunene, Maui and has an agricultural burning permit (AGP) with the DOH.  Field 76 was not a field allowed to be burned on the AGP and the violation was self-reported. A penalty of $2,400 has been assessed for the violation.

The DOH Clean Air Branch (CAB) protects the people and environment of Hawai‘i by monitoring air quality and regulating businesses that release pollutants into the air. The CAB reviews and approves air permits, evaluates and enforces state and federal air standards, conducts inspections, and investigates reported incidents related to outdoor air quality. Through the air permit process, the DOH ensures companies comply with state and federal emission standards to minimize air pollution impacts on the public.

In general, penalties are assessed on violators to remove any economic benefit they may have gained from their noncompliance and put them in a worse situation than those who comply with the law. All fines are paid into a revolving special fund used to prevent or minimize damage to the environment. Parties have the right to request a hearing to contest DOH orders.

Statement from Governor Neil Abercrombie on Power Situation

From the Governors Office:

“I have spoken with leaders of Hawaiian Electric Company and the union.  My thought is that they can set aside their respective positions during this emergency situation until the public’s safety is taken care of.

“The most important thing right now is restoring electric services for residents and ensuring their health and security then resume negotiations.”

Governor Neil Abercrombie