Hawaii residents asked to choose ‘self-supply’ or ‘grid-supply’ in next move to smart grid

hawaii solar panels roof mount

Starting today, renewable-energy project developers seeking interconnection to the HECO companies’ utility grids will face two new PUC-driven tariff requirements, termed “self-supply” and “grid supply”, that will replace the NEM program and pave the way for so-called smart grid functionality.

Out goes the NEM program, which led to Hawaii’s massive growth in solar power generation, but also to the engineering challenges the HECO companies have been struggling to manage over the last few years.

“However, successes to date have not come easily or predictably to the utilities or their customers,” said the PUC, and this ruling is a critical interim step that will allow the state to continue towards its goal of a 100% renewable energy portfolio. Moving forward, customers will be able to apply for fast-track approval to interconnect their systems under the “self-supply” option, which targets zero or very little energy export, or a standard review under the “grid-supply” option, where the quality requirements for energy exported to the grid undergo a significant overhaul, as do the credits allowed for such exports.

RELATED: REC Solar ranked Hawaii’s leading solar company in 2014 

While the specifics of both tariffs force a much more careful analysis of energy needs and corresponding system design, under either scenario, intelligent grid technology developer Apparent Inc. is ready to meet the needs of energy users who want to be green and maximize cost-effectiveness under the new guidelines.

Apparent’s patented technologies, first deployed in 2009, allow the smooth transfer of energy from photovoltaic (PV) modules (or any other source) to an electrical load, battery storage or the grid, all the while conditioning that energy to maximize both grid health and the PV system owner’s ROI.

“These tariff changes are an absolute positive for Hawaii, and they show that the HECO companies are very serious about expanding renewables,” said Apparent Chief Technology Officer, Stefan Matan, “in an intelligent way that ultimately serves the broadest base of energy users possible. ”

Apparent has anticipated this direction for the energy industry in Hawaii, and has been installing new-rule-compliant technology from the beginning. “This is the way toward grid reliability and energy independence in Hawaii,” says Matan,”and Apparent is proud to be ahead of the curve and ready to serve Hawaii’s energy needs now.”

Apparent’s suite of solutions inherently supplies “grid-beneficial” energy export, as is now mandated for any energy that will be delivered to the grid under either of the two new options. The PUC ruling also paves the way for the marketization of ancillary services, just as found in most other electrical markets (on the mainland, in Europe, and elsewhere), and Apparent is ready for that. Rather than delivering simple wattage from connected energy sources, Apparent’s technology dynamically and automatically adjusts reactive power production, matches voltage and impedance, and delivers all of the benefits of a utility-scale, fossil-fueled spinning generator, right on the roof.

These characteristics, that lie embedded in Apparent’s systems, allow a level of energy and load factor management previously not possible, to the extent that clients who embrace Apparent’s technology can see as much as 40% energy savings over other alternatives.

As Hawaii’s PUC and collection of utility companies continue their march towards clean energy independence, Apparent continues to provide the expertise, software, and hardware that will maximize benefits to utilities, consumers, and producers simultaneously, regardless of the regulatory and tariff changes that can and will occur in the future. In fact, Apparent helps drive this change by pushing the boundaries in new power technology.

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