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Hawaiian Electric customers on Oahu can help ensure – and get paid for – the island's power supply by adding battery storage to existing or new rooftop solar systems.
The utility began accepting applications on Monday for a new program created to avoid potential power shortages for the next year or two after Oahu's largest power plant was shut down.
As part of the “Battery Bonus” program, customers receive a one-time payment of between 500 and 850 US dollars per kilowatt of new battery storage.
The cost of the battery system varies widely. However, in some cases, the incentive payment could cover half the cost of a simple 5-kilowatt battery at the high end of the payment range without taking into account federal or state tax credits, while also giving the customer compensation for the electricity the utility receives draws from the battery during a daily peak usage time.
“This is exciting,” said Rocky Mold, executive director of the Hawaii Solar Energy Association. “The average homeowner is part of the solution to keeping the lights on.”
The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, a state agency that regulates Hawaiian Electric, approved the program in June as an emergency measure to avoid a potential power outage if an AES Corp. coal-fired power plant to retire in September 2022.
There is concern that new, scheduled new electricity from renewable sources is not being developed on a supply scale in time to offset the loss of the 180-megawatt AES facility at Campbell Industrial Park, which provides around 16% of Oahu's electricity during peak evening hours.
At the same time, Hawaiian Electric had to limit solar systems on roofs if they did not have battery storage, as too much electricity could flow into the grid during the day when energy production is high and consumption is lower.
The battery incentive program from Hawaiian Electric enables up to 50 megawatts of new battery storage systems that can be connected to the rooftop solar systems of private and commercial customers.
Total premium payments are expected to cost up to $ 34 million, which will ultimately be paid for by utility fee payers.
Hawaiian Electric estimates that a private customer who consumes 500 kilowatts of energy per month will pay an additional $ 1.37 per month for the battery bonus.
Robert Harris, a spokesman for the Hawaii PV Coalition, said the program was the product of intense and sensible collaboration between the utility company, the PUC and other stakeholders.
“It's a pretty innovative, well-thought-out solution,” he said.
Hawaiian Electric said the program, which could provide electricity to the utility for 10 years, will address the problem of short-term shutdowns of AES plants and will also help meet Hawaii's longer-term goal of 100% clean energy by 2045.
“This unique offer is an excellent opportunity for new or existing solar customers to enjoy the added benefits of energy storage at home, support the grid that powers all customers, and move us closer to our goal of 100% clean energy for electricity by 2045 . “Yoh Kawanami, the company's co-director of customer energy resources, said in a statement.
As part of the program, customers can add any number of battery storage systems to new or existing solar systems on the roof, and owners of existing systems can also add up to 5 kilowatts of new photovoltaic modules.
Hawaiian Electric pays more to those who participate faster. Participants who initially provide 15 megawatts of battery storage will receive US $ 850 per kilowatt. The payment drops to $ 750 per kilowatt for the next 15 megawatts of battery upgrades, and then to $ 500 per kilowatt.
The advantage for the grid is that the program's battery systems provide the electricity consumed by the system owner or the grid for two hours every evening between the peak usage time from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
When energy is fed into the grid from a battery, Hawaiian Electric pays for that electricity under one of the various rooftop solar program agreements with a customer.
Applications will be accepted until June 23, 2023 or until the 50 megawatt limit is reached.
An initial run time of battery power usage will last through late 2023, when Hawaiian Electric expects to have more new utility-scale renewable energy assets online.
After this, the program participants have the option of moving on to a subsequent phase of the program for the remainder of the 10-year term, which has yet to be determined by the PUC.
Program participants also have the option to end the program early if they notify the utility and repay a proportion of the incentive that is treated as income for tax purposes.
FIND OUT MORE
Program details, including approval requirements, are available at 808ne.ws/3rjGSiV.