HAWAI‘I STATE ENERGY OFFICE AND KAUA‘I ISLAND UTILITY COOPERATIVE RECEIVE FEDERAL SUPPORT FOR INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS

Projects will boost reliability and support utility’s goal of reaching 100% renewable energy with in 10 years

LIHUE, Hawai‘i – The U.S. Department of Energy today announced two technology demonstration projects proposed by the Hawai‘i State Energy Office (HSEO) in partnership with Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) will receive more than $17.9 million in funding through the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) Program. 

Both projects leverage existing power generation equipment with new technology to expand dispatchable renewable energy and support reliable island grid operation among other benefits. Together these solutions will enable KIUC to achieve its goal of 100% renewable energy within the next 10 years. 

“Kaua‘i is proving that transitioning to locally produced renewable energy alleviates the energy burden for families and businesses by reducing extreme price volatility,” said Governor Josh Green, M.D. “We are grateful to the Biden Administration for supporting these projects, which we believe will showcase how these technologies can achieve similar benefits on other islands.”  

“HSEO is excited to be working with KIUC to implement these innovative solutions to bring solar grid forming and synchronous condenser conversion technologies to Hawai‘i,” said Hawai‘i Chief Energy Officer Mark B. Glick. “These projects will provide significant community benefits by adding value to existing renewable resources, providing opportunities for additional renewables, reducing the frequency and impact of power disruptions, and further decarbonizing the grid by reducing fossil generation.” 

“At 60% renewable generation, KIUC’s transition has not only resulted in significant greenhouse gas reductions, it has also saved our members millions of dollars over the past few years through stabilized electricity rates that are no longer vulnerable to spikes in oil pricing,” said KIUC’s President and Chief Executive Officer, David Bissell. 

The projects are scheduled to begin in early 2024 with an estimated completion date in mid-2025.  

About the projects: 

The Utility Solar Grid Forming Technology (USGFT) and Synchronous Condenser Conversion Technology (SCCT) demonstration projects will be funded in part through the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) Grid Innovation Program of the Grid Deployment Office, Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations.  

Utility Solar Grid Forming Technology  

The GRIP program will provide half of the total cost-shared project estimated at $32.5 million, with KIUC contributing the other half of the total project cost. 

The USFGT project involves an innovative technology application that demonstrates a technological solution for expanded renewables dispatch and reliable island grid operation. The project adds battery storage and advanced grid forming inverters to two existing solar power plants. This will create a hybrid power supply with enhanced dispatchability, greater resource availability, and will provide important ancillary services including frequency regulation, reactive power and voltage control, and operating reserves. The grid regulation service will provide significant regional and community benefit by furthering the capability of the system to accommodate 100% dispatch of renewable generation sources and provide a more reliable and resilient island grid. 

Click here to read the U.S. Department of Energy’s Grid Deployment Office fact sheet on the project. 

Synchronous Condenser Conversion Technology  

The GRIP program will provide half of the cost-shared project of $3.35 million, with KIUC contributing of the remaining half of the total project cost.  

This innovative project adds grid-forming capability to an existing generator at the Port Allen power station to accommodate stable operation of high penetration distributed variable renewable generation on the Kaua‘i electric grid. The project will provide significant regional and community benefits by reducing the likelihood and consequence of disruptive events to the grid, and provide a reference case for duplication of the conversion technology by others. This novel use of grid-forming technology in a grid of this size will demonstrate a replicable solution for local, regional, and interregional grid enhancement and decarbonization. 

Click here to read the U.S. Department of Energy’s Grid Deployment Office fact sheet on the project.   

The Kaua‘i projects and a previously announced award to Hawaiian Electric are among the recipients of the largest-ever investment in America’s energy grid announced today.

Click here to read the U.S. Department of Energy announcement of more than $3.5 billion in awards across 44 states.    

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DIESEL REPLACEMENT REBATE PROGRAM HELPS BRING FIVE NEW ELECTRIC-BATTERY BUSES TO HAWAI‘I

Buses include the manufacturer’s first tour/charter EV motorcoaches in the country and adds to the EV school bus fleet on O‘ahu.

HONOLULU —  On July 20th, 2023 the Hawai‘i State Energy Office, the Hawai‘i Department of Health and Roberts Hawai‘i, Inc. debuted five new zero-emission electric-battery buses that will provide clean transportation for tourists and keiki on O‘ahu.

The buses were purchased with assistance from the Diesel Replacement Rebate (DRR) program. Funded by the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust and the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, the DRR provides rebates of up to 45 percent of the total purchase amount to replace medium- and heavy-duty diesel vehicles and equipment with new battery electric or hydrogen equivalents. The rebate also covers up to 45% of an EV charger per electric vehicle.

“We are absolutely committed to pursuing climate change strategies that are equitable, culturally responsive and resilient,” said Governor Josh Green, M.D. “Renewable energy and sustainable transportation are going to be a huge part of our future, so we need to build on progress we have already made, with more events like today. I want to thank all the partners gathered here for their leadership and hard work toward our clean energy goals,” Governor Green said.

“Hawai‘i’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a rate greater than it produces no later than 2045 requires a significant change to how we get around,” said Hawai‘i State Chief Energy Officer Mark B. Glick. “Transportation is the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions by replacing older diesel vehicles with zero-emission alternatives helps to provide progress toward these goals.”

The DRR program is one of many activities the state is taking to achieve its renewable energy and decarbonization goals. Administered by the Hawai‘i State Energy Office in partnership with the Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH), and United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the program has allocated approximately $3.2 million in rebates to help offset the purchase of eight vehicles – seven buses and one forklift. The five buses recently dedicated were purchased during the first year of the DRR program in 2022 and arrived in recent weeks. The other vehicles are expected to be purchased through the second year of the rebate program now underway.

“The Department of Health is excited to continue our partnership with the EPA and HSEO in support of the Diesel Replacement Rebate program, modernizing Hawai‘i’s vehicles by replacing older diesel vehicles with battery-electric equivalents, supporting Hawai‘i’s climate change goals, and reducing harmful diesel engine emissions to protect public health,” said DOH Clean Air Branch Program Manager Marianne Rossio.

The rebate program provides state businesses and entities with an important tool to reduce barriers to adopting zero-emissions alternatives that in turn benefit their customers and communities.

“Roberts Hawaiʻi appreciates the Hawaiʻi State Energy Office and the Hawaiʻi Department of Health’s support through rebate assistance. While we are striving to adapt by providing zero-emission transportation options, this transformation involves new technology and it requires major upgrades to properties and, as such, the cost of electric buses, associated infrastructure, and workforce training is high.  A shared public-private cost model is necessary, and we must work together to meet the state’s 2045 zero-emission target and to protect Hawaiʻi’s environment for future generations, said Roy Pfund, President and CEO of Robert’s Hawai‘i.”

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