Ulupono Initiative Offers Recommendations to Improve Hawaiian Electric’s Renewable Energy Interconnection Processes

Mar 25, 2021


HONOLULU—Ulupono Initiative today submitted a study to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) outlining recommendations to improve Hawaiian Electric’s procurement process. While the study offers recommendations on a number of areas related to Hawaiian Electric’s procurement process, comments submitted by Ulupono Initiative focus on solutions to address the lengthy delays and high costs impacting renewable energy projects, primarily caused by Hawaiian Electric’s interconnection processes. These issues have created uncertainty for future renewable energy projects that are essential to Hawaii’s energy transition.

The documents were filed in response to an order issued by the PUC that raised concerns regarding Hawaiian Electric’s interconnection practices and transition plans for the upcoming retirements of fossil fuel plants in Hawaii. Order 37624, issued on Feb. 11, 2021, in Docket 2021-0024, noted that “the Companies’ conduct surrounding the interconnection process has resulted in the potential for a significant setback to renewable energy development in this State.”

The issue of interconnection has been previously identified by the PUC in a number of other proceedings, including the Community-Based Renewable Energy docket. As such, the recommendations offered by Ulupono Initiative—informed by outside research and discussions with the utility, developers and stakeholders—are intended to apply to all utility-scale renewable energy projects that have been affected by the existing interconnection process.

The recommendations offered by Ulupono Initiative focus on five key areas:

  1. Interconnection costs;
  2. Interconnection delays;
  3. Accurate and verifiable information to developers;
  4. Transparency of interconnection timelines; and
  5. Processes to settle disputes regarding interconnection costs and delays.

The chart below provides a more detailed view of the issues challenging the current interconnection processes and appropriate solutions for the future.

“We believe there is an opportunity for Hawaiian Electric to make meaningful improvements to the interconnection processes that will strengthen the renewable energy sector and protect customers from both the cost and environmental implications due to an unnecessary reliance on oil,” explained Murray Clay, president of Ulupono Initiative. “If interconnection issues persist, associated impacts may have future market implications and prolong Hawai‘i’s reliance on fossil fuels. We are hopeful that our comments will highlight that near- and long-term solutions are available to avoid these outcomes.”

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Read Ulupono Initiative’s full response:

About Ulupono Initiative
A mission-driven venture of The Omidyar Group, Ulupono Initiative was founded in 2009 to improve the quality of life for the people of Hawaii by working toward sustainable solutions that support and promote locally produced food, renewable energy, clean transportation, and better management of freshwater and waste. For more information about Ulupono Initiative, visit ulupono.com or connect with Ulupono on LinkedInFacebook and Instagram.