The Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO) is on the lookout for private companies to collaborate with them on managing electricity demand in both the commercial and residential sectors in the islands.
Demand response will help renewables development
Customer-sited solar and other renewables are a fast developing part of generation capacity on each island, according to HECO. Hawaii has almost doubled its solar power capacity every year since 2007, and in 2012 installed more solar than in the last six years combined. [Engerati – Learning From The Solar State – Hawaii].
Managing demand in response to utility requests is important for continued penetration of renewable energy on the islands' electric grids, which has been a serious problem for HECO and Hawaii's solar sector. The backlog of interconnection applications has been a major challenge for solar installers and developers for over a year. The process of clearing out the backlog is expected to take about five months.
Traditionally, when demand for power fluctuates throughout the day, utilities have met that demand with generating units by adjusting the output or supply of power. As variable renewable resources such as wind and solar increase, this technique is more challenging, which make power outages more likely.
To that end, demand response enables utilities to adjust demand to help maintain .
Additionally, by offering lower or higher prices during certain times of the day, some demand response programs could encourage customers to shift energy use to times when solar and wind produces the most power, which could optimize these renewable sources that otherwise might go to waste.
"With demand response, customers get financial rewards that lower their monthly bills," says Shelee Kimura, HECO's vice president for corporate planning and business development. "We reduce use of more expensive, oil-fired generators to meet electricity needs and have greater ability to support renewable energy. Demand response programs are beneficial for our customers and the environment."
HECO is inviting interested companies to respond to a request for information (RFI) to provide data on their level of interest, expertise and experience in carrying out a variety of demand response programmes. The RFI is a key step in expanding and enhancing the companies’ existing demand response programmes.
Integrated Demand Response Portfolio Plan
In July, HECO sent the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission its Integrated Demand Response Portfolio Plan proposing "a portfolio of demand response programs that appeals to a wide variety of residential and commercial customers, reduces the cost of electricity, and enables a higher level of renewable energy without compromising service reliability."
The plan envisions diverse programs that benefit all customers, including those who do not directly participate in demand response. These benefits include reduced overall energy costs and reduced waste of less expensive renewable energy output.
HECO says it has sent its RFI to companies that have expressed an interest in its demand response plan, but is open to all qualified parties.
The deadline for companies to respond is 15 December 2014.