HONOLULU (KHON2) — The clock is ticking on getting Oahu more power.
By Sept.1, the AES coal plant on Oahu is set to retire, taking away 15 to 20% of the island’s electricity production. Now, officials are turning to the community to help feed the grid.
This week, Honolulu ranked first in the nation by a wide margin in per-capita rooftop solar, but all of that solar can’t help feed the grid during peak electric house use when the sun is down.
The Hawaii State Energy Office is working on ways to fill the puka of electricity production that will be lost with the plant, including:
- Large solar plus storage projects
- A utility-scale battery storage project coming to Kapolei
- Battery bonus, a Hawaiian Electric program that offers residents and businesses who have solar a chance to get an instant rebate of $850 per kilowatt-hour for installing a battery.
“They can help dispatch the energy to the grid when Hawaiian Electric needs it most which is typically at nighttime when we come home and turn everything on and the sun goes down, and we lose a lot of that solar PV,” Hawaii State Energy Office Renewable Energy Program Manager Cam Black said.
With many solar systems on the net metering program, there are not enough batteries on Oahu.
“I’d say that majority of the PV systems that are installed today do not have battery because we are such a leading-edge company and state really adopted PV early on,” HECO Manager of Customer Energy Resources Ian Morikawa said.
With the battery, the customer agrees to send power to the grid every night between 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. for 10 years.
“They don’t have to commit the entire battery,” Morikawa said. “They can commit portions of the battery. It really depends on what their usages and their goals,”
This is just one of a handful of community-based renewable energy solar projects being pursued on Oahu.
“For those of us who don’t have the means, whether financially or physically through structures to put our own PV system on, that’s where those programs that community-based renewable energy can allow those ratepayers, those Oahu, Hawaiian Electric customers to invest in solar projects located elsewhere on Oahu,” Black said.
- 270 kW Mililani Tech Park (operational) – Mililani
- 3 MW Palailai Solar 1 (under development) – Makakilo
- 1.72 MW KHLS (under development) – Kalaeloa
Black said the 180-megawatt AES plant is the second-largest carbon emission producer in the state, which prompted the state to forfeit using the plant.
Get Hawaii’s latest morning news delivered to your inbox, sign up for News 2 You
“Hawai’i does not have its own source of fossil fuel (coal or oil), meaning we have to import all of it; mainly from foreign countries due to Hawai’i’s needs and location,” Black said. ” We’ve seen the recent news on Hawai’i’s discontinued use of Russian oil. We get much of our coal from Indonesia. So displacing fossil fuels is not just about going “green,” it’s about increasing our energy independence and security.”
Correction: A previous edition of this story incorrectly listed the amount a Tesla power wall costs, and how many kW it can send to the grid.