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Hawaiian Electric seeks PUC approval for final energy plan

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Hawaiian Electric has submitted its final draft of its overarching plan charting how it will transition to clean energy.

The “Integrated Grid Plan: A pathway to a clean energy future” outlines steps the company will take to reach net-zero carbon emissions and 100% renewable resource goals by 2045.

An initial draft was submitted to the state Public Utilities Commission on March 31 followed by a public commentary period through April 21.

Hawaiian Electric on Friday submitted the final version to the PUC, and seeks regulatory approval of the plan.

“Meeting the energy needs of our customers up to and beyond 2045 requires a short-term action plan and a long-term strategy — and that’s what the Integrated Grid Plan delivers,” said Colton Ching, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president of planning and technology, in a news release. “Creating a resilient, clean energy grid has never been more urgent as the effects of climate change escalate, existing energy infrastructure ages and our timelines shrink.”

Hawaiian Electric says since planning efforts began in 2018, it has been collecting data and gathering insight and input from working groups, models, stakeholder meetings, community events and presentations.

“Throughout the planning process, we heard that affordability and reliability are of top concern to our customers,” said Ching. “It’s essential that our future grid delivers on this fundamental need for pricing and power that people can count on.”

Hawaiian Electric said its modeling shows that although energy rates might rise during the near-term transition to clean energy, they will be lower and less volatile than relying on fossil fuels.

The plan outlines five “near-term actions” such as expanding customer choices with new programs that make private rooftop solar, shared solar and energy storage programs more affordable; stabilizing utility rates by adding large-scale renewable energy projects and storage; ensuring reliability with renewable generation that is not weather-dependent; engaging communities early and often during the development of future energy projects; and reducing costs for customers by pursuing federal funding.

Hawaiian Electric said customers will have opportunities in coming months to share their thoughts on where grid infrastructure goes and requests for project proposals. They also will hear of new programs making energy generation, storage and efficiency more affordable.

Hawaiian Electric serves 95% of the state’s population of about 1.4 million residents with separate grids on Hawaii island, Oahu, Maui, Lanai and Molokai.

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