By Ethan Sprague, Sales & Business Development
EEX is a program helping energy start ups navigate markets in Hawaii and the Asia Pacific by providing funding, mentorship and networking opportunities. It has a history of funding successful startups including Blue Pillar, STEM, Bidgley and Brightbox.
Hawaii is in many ways an ideal testbed for data driven grid development. Often referred to as a “postcard from the future” because of its high penetration of renewables (last year 17% of HECO customers had solar), aging electric infrastructure and geographic constraints.
Hawaii is planning to achieve a 100% Renewable Portfolio Standard by 2040. Kevala proposes to address a significant obstacle: quantitatively measuring the grid costs and benefits of various scenarios for distributed energy resource (DER) penetration.
Based on interviews with stakeholders, it is clear that Hawaii would benefit from a common view of existing conditions and an ability to assess the impact of new energy related activity.
Utilities and regulators are struggling to find the best way to manage a network where high adoption rates and changes in demand trigger investment in, and uncertainty about, the recovery and costs of long life capital assets. DER businesses, advocates and consumers lack information how new policies and programs may limit or alter markets, or reduce alternative energy choices.
Underscoring this need for comprehensive modeling analytics, recent developments in Hawaii demonstre how investment in the network needs to be matched with changing consumer behavior that is transforming both demand and supply of electricity.
1 — Hawaiian Electric’s proposal for grid modernization was rejected because it wasn’t based on a vision of incorporating changing customer behavior.
“The application does not specifically address how the companies intend to integrate customer-sited assets in the near term and long term,” cited the Hawaii public Utilities Commission. http://www.bizjournals.com/pacific/news/2017/01/09/regulators-tell-hawaiian-electric-to-come-up-with.html
2 — A new pilot offering 5,000 residential customers time of use rates, which offer dramatically lower rates in the daytime, may impact energy demand and alter utility capex recovery.
14.9 cents per kilowatt-hour from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,
37.3 cents per kilowatt-hour from 5 to 10 p.m.
23.7 cents per kilowatt-hour from 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
3 — Adoption of electric vehicles — mobile demand — will change network economics.
In January Hawaiian Electric and Nissan began offering an additional $10,000 dollars rebate (on top of the $7,500 federal tax incentive) to consumers purchasing new electric Nissan Leafs. https://www.hawaiianelectric.com/hawaiian-electric-companies-and-nissan-offer-utility-customers-10000-rebate-on-a-new-nissan-leaf-sedan
From a grid standpoint the above actions influence where investment is and isn’t needed and whether prior investment is recovered. The grid is becoming increasingly complex – even more so when considering the broader economic (jobs and savings) and environmental (pollution and health) implications of our energy investments.
At Kevala, we have conviction that data and transparency are key to accelerating a clean energy future. In Hawaii we will develop a digitized map of grid investments — including locations of solar adoption — to identify trends, costs, and benefits to support the community plan for the future.
Hawaii is a unique market, and our work there will help Kevala bring insights to facilitate smart renewable energy adoption in other communities across the United States.