For Immediate Release: September 11, 2008

HONOLULU—The Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT) has been awarded a $500,000 federal Department of Energy (DOE) grant – that will be combined with more than $900,000 in private sector in-kind contributions and $350,000 that the state recently received for related studies – creating a fund of close to $2 million for increased use of renewable energy.

The DBEDT project is one of only 15 state-led clean energy projects that received the U.S. Department of Energy competitive grant award. In addition to this most recent competitive grant, DBEDT also received a $50,000 competitive grant from the National Governors Association in July, to study electric vehicle policy issues, and a $300,000 grant from the Department of Energy to study undersea cabling.

“These grant projects will help study ways to modernize our electrical grids,” said DBEDT Director Theodore E. Liu. “This will be the first-step in our renewable energy program for supplying Oahu with electrical energy from other islands.”

“Securing these competitive grants highlights the national leadership role Hawaii is playing in renewable energy development,” said Lt. Governor James R. “Duke” Aiona, Jr. “Our Administration is committed to breaking Hawaii’s dependency on imported oil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions through developing clean sources of energy. This public-private partnership will further Hawaii’s efforts to modernize our electrical infrastructure and distribution system and help increase the energy security of our state.”

The projects will focus on four technology areas:

  1. Deploying undersea transmission lines to deliver energy generated from wind and solar generation sources on Lanai and Molokai to Oahu;
  2. Upgrading and expanding Oahu’s transmission and distribution system to enhance reliability and stability and to be able to accept up to one gigawatt of renewable energy;
  3. Evaluating the integration of electric vehicle storage into the electrical grid to maximize renewable energy use; and
  4. Deploying a suite of energy storage systems to study both grid stability issues and bulk power issues raised by new “as-available” renewable energy systems.

Financing, configuration, ownership, and management will be examined, as well as the stability of the Oahu electrical grid. Ultimately, this project will identify and recommend policies for large scale energy and storage systems and the specific technical requirements that would allow the integration of large as-available renewable energy into the utility grid.

DBEDT will partner with the Hawaiian Electric Company, First Wind, Castle & Cooke, and Better Place. Hawaii Natural Energy Institute and Enterprise Honolulu will assist in the project.

These latest grants build on the progress of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, an unprecedented partnership formed in January between the State of Hawaii and the U.S. Department of Energy. The goal of the Initiative is to significantly decrease energy demand and accelerate the use of renewables, so that clean energy resources will be sufficient to supply 70 percent of Hawaii’s energy needs by 2030.

As part of the partnership, in April the Department of Energy selected Hawaii as part of a nationwide demonstration project to modernize the country’s electricity grid system. The estimated cost of the Hawaii grid modernization project is $15 million which includes a $7 million investment by the DOE and an additional $8 million from private sector partners including General Electric, Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc., Maui Electric Company, Columbus Electric Cooperative, the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Sentech and First Wind.

Also this year, the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced it would establish a wind technology program at First Wind’s Kaheawa Wind Farm on Maui. It is the first such partner site for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s wind technology program outside of its base in Colorado.

These collaborative partnerships are part of the Lingle-Aiona Administration’s efforts to reduce the state’s dependence on imported oil and help bring energy price stability to Hawaii consumers.


For more information, contact:

Ted Liu, Director
Phone: (808) 586-2355

Theodore Peck, Energy Planning & Policy Branch Manager
Phone: (808) 587-3803
Email: [email protected]