Three Hawaiian power companies plan to deactivate a total of 226 MW of oil-fired generating units, convert remaining baseload plants to cycling duty, and substantially ramp up use of renewables by 2016.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies, whose subsidiaries include the Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO), Maui Electric Co., and Hawaii Electric Light Co. serve 95% of the state’s 1.2 million residents. An integrated resource planning report and five-year action plans filed with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission show that the companies will deactivate the Honolulu Power Plant and two of four units at Maui’s Kahului Power Plant by 2014, as well as two units at Oahu’s Waiau Power Plant by 2016. It also includes Hawaii Island’s Shipman plant, which has already been deactivated and will be retired in 2014. Further, all units at Kahului Power Plant would be fully retired by 2019. The oil-fired units make up 14% of the utility’s owned generation.

The companies will instead accelerate development of utility-scale renewable energy projects, including solar and wind. Plans include increasing the capability of utility grids to accept additional customer-sited renewable generation, especially roof-top photovoltaic systems, and develop smart grids for all three companies. Major components include installing smart meters for all customers (with opt-out provisions) in 2017–2018, automating grids, and developing utility energy storage systems.

Hawaii’s renewable portfolio standard requires that the companies meet 15% of net electricity sales with renewable power by 2015, 25% by 2020, and 40% by 2030. The three companies met a record of 13.9% of generation with renewables in 2012 (installing 111 MW of nameplate utility-scale wind that year). By the end of this year, the companies expect to meet 18% of generation with renewables.

HECO also plans to convert or replace generating units, which have not been deactivated, to use “cost-effective, cleaner fuels,” including renewable biomass or biofuel and liquefied natural gas.

For the companies’ baseload generating units that are not deactivated or decommissioned, the plan includes actions to change the operating attributes of the units so that they "provide ancillary services needed for reliable system operations." These include changes to operating procedures, equipment, and controls to convert baseload generating units to daily and/or seasonal cycling duty, to increase the turn down capability to lower loads, and increase the ramp rate capabilities in increasing or decreasing load output.

HECO said the action plans were developed after a year of research and deliberation. An underlying reason for the altered plans is that the composition, configuration, and operations within the electric power sector in Hawaii are changing dramatically, it said. "Due to high fuel costs, effective energy efficiency programs, customer self-generation of electricity and economic conditions, utility sales and peak loads have declined for several years and are expected to be relatively flat … or continue to decline … in the future," the integrated resource planning action plan says.

In 2012, Hawaii’s reserve margin was 58%, and assuming no deactivation of generating units, reserve margins would increase to 62%.

Sources: POWERnews, HECO

Sonal Patel, Senior Writer (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)