Distributed Energy Resources

Calif., Hawaii PUCs to collaborate on renewables, other issues

The California and Hawaii utility commissions plan to share information and best practices on renewables, demand response and other issues that can help their states slash greenhouse gas emissions under a recently signed memorandum of understanding.

The agreement was signed March 27 by the heads of the California Public Utilities Commission and the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.

“This [memorandum of understanding] establishes a framework for Hawaii’s and California’s commissions to share information and best practices with the mutual goals of decarbonization, the development and deployment of innovative technologies and planning in the energy and transportation sectors to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and promote clean energy, improve reliability, and obtain cost benefits for ratepayers,” said Hawaii PUC Chair James Griffin.

As a starting point, the states plan to review best practices and pursue opportunities to learn from each others’ efforts to commercialize new technologies and promote innovation, according to the agreement, which was signed by California PUC President Michael Picker and Griffin.

The PUCs also intend to share information that facilitates “proactive, coordinated, and forward-thinking” policies for distributed resources, smart inverters and interconnections.

The regulatory agencies will share their analysis of the benefits, costs and reliability effects of distributed resources, according to the agreement.

Agency staff will review best practices for demand response and energy efficiency, including exploring transmission-level demand response compared to distribution-level demand response, the agreement said.

The agencies intend to look for ways to support each other in electrifying the transportation, building and energy sectors, according to the agreement.

In addition, the PUCs intend to explore using the “social cost of carbon” in system planning processes.

The agencies expect to identify best management practices for addressing grid resiliency challenges pre- and post-disaster, including planning for sea-level rise, sharp temperature fluctuations, flooding and mudslides, and wildfires, the agreement said.

Finally, the California and Hawaii PUCs will share cybersecurity and grid modernization best practices, including distribution system planning and operations, distributed resources, and the interface between the distribution and transmission systems, according to the agreement.

California and Hawaii both have aggressive renewable portfolio standards. Hawaii’s RPS climbs to 30 percent by 2021, 40 percent by 2031, 70 percent by 2041 and 100 percent by 2046.

California’s renewable requirements ramp up to 60 percent by 2030 and require all the state's electricity to come from carbon-free resources by 2045.

A commitment to boosting energy storage is another policy similarity between California and Hawaii.

The Hawaii PUC, for example, recently approved six solar-plus-storage projects that total 247 megawatts and will be able to discharge 988 megawatt-hours at a time. Hawaiian Electric Co. will buy electricity from the projects for $80/MWh to $100/MWh. HECO pays $150/MWh for fossil-fueled generation, according to the utility.

The PUC is reviewing a 12.5-MW solar array that will include a 50 MWh storage system and a 15-MW solar array that will have a 60 MWh storage system.

The California PUC has two storage procurement requirements for the state’s investor-owned utilities: 1,325 MW by 2021 and another 500 MW of behind-the-meter storage.