The Hawaiian Electric Companies are commencing Hawaii’s largest procurement effort for renewable energy resources to end the use of coal and reduce reliance on imported oil for power generation.

It is among the largest single renewable energy procurements undertaken by a US utility.

With the approval of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the companies have issued requests for proposals for renewable energy and grid services from developers locally and globally, moving the state closer to its goal of using 100 per cent renewable energy by 2045.

The companies are seeking approximately 900 MW of new renewables or renewables plus storage, to generate about 2 million MWh annually. This includes estimated targets of technologies equal to 594 MW of solar for O’ahu, 135 MW for Maui and up to 203 MW for Hawaii Island. 

“Hawaiian Electric has made huge strides toward our renewable energy goals and will end this year achieving a renewable generation portfolio of 30 per cent,” said Alan Oshima, president of Hawaiian Electric.

“This effort is a big step in accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to locally-sourced clean energy resources. For customers, the benefits are simple: cleaner energy at lower prices.”

Renewables plus storage will be replacing the 180 MW coal-fired AES Hawaii plant in Campbell Industrial Park in O’ahu, as well as the Kahului Power Plant on Maui. The projects will need to be operational by September 2022 and December 2024 respectively.

A separate request for proposals for grid services from customer-sited distributed energy resources will help system operators manage reliability of modern electric grids with diverse, dynamic inputs and outputs.

Grid services being sought include fast frequency response and capacity for O’ahu, Maui, and Hawai’i islands with targets ranging from 4 MW to 119 MW. This will create an opportunity for customers to play a direct role in modernizing the electric grid and integrating more renewable energy.

Final requests for proposals are expected to be issued later this year for the equivalent of 4 MW of solar or 3.6 MW of small wind for Moloka’i, paired with energy storage, and an equivalent up to 9.5 MW of solar paired with energy storage for Lānaʻi, pending approval by the PUC.  

Due to the complexity of projects sought, the PUC has chosen independent observers and a technical adviser to assure that all proposals – including “self-build” projects proposed by the companies – are treated fairly and equitably and will not interact to create technical problems on island grids.