Hawaiian Electric submits new renewable energy plan under orders from state agency

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HONOLULU — Hawaiian Electric Co. has filed an ambitious plan to have 65 percent of its power come from renewable energy within 16 years.

The plan was filed late Tuesday with the Public Utilities Commission, just minutes before its deadline to do so. The company was under orders from the state agency to reduce energy costs and accommodate more solar power and other renewable energy on the grid.

The company also said the plan would cut customer bills by 20 percent, and it wants to convert remaining oil-fired power plants to liquefied natural gas, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Hawaii News Now reported the commission will review the filing to determine if the plan is consistent with its earlier order and the state's energy goals.

Hawaiian Electric wants to nearly triple the amount of solar power by 2030. However, the plan outlines increased costs for residents using solar power, and the newspaper reports this could cause the company to not meet its goal.

There are three potential charges outlined in the plan for residents who power their homes with solar power.

Besides a one-time connection fee, the changes would include increasing a fixed monthly charge from as low as $17 to $71 for solar customers on Oahu, and decreasing the amount the company pays residents for sending power to the grid. Residents are currently paid more than 30 cents per kilowatt-hour, but the new plans calls for that to be decreased to 17 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The company says the plan is to gradually introduce these new costs, which will bring fairness to all utility customers. The plan also says solar customers didn't pay enough of the utility's fixed costs.

Making the costs more equal between solar and non-solar customers will allow the utility to cut bills for non-solar users by 20 percent, the company estimated.

A state law passed in 2009 requires Hawaii's electric utilities to get 40 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2030.

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