Hawaiian Electric Co. filed proposals seeking to change power rates, encouraging customers to use more energy during off-peak hours when solar power is strongest. One proposal was specifically aimed toward the Hawaii Department of Education, while other rate changes target residential customers and EV owners.
Department of Education
Each of the 240 public schools in HECO territories of Oahu, Hawaii Island, Maui, Molokai, and Lanai would be given the choice of using the new rates, which would vary depending on the time of day.
– From 8am to 4pm (super off-peak hours): About 25 percent less than the recent average effective energy charge
– From 12am to 8am (off-peak hours): A rate equal to the existing energy charge rate
– From 4pm to 12am (on-peak hours): A rate higher than the existing energy charge rate
Although actual savings will depend on how much each school is able to change its use to fit the time-of-use rate periods, compared to 12 months of energy usage ending June 2015, HECO estimates that the Department of Education would have saved about 9 percent on electric bills if the proposed rates been in effect.
“At the Hawaiian Electric Companies, we know the challenges in providing a comfortable learning environment for our students and teachers. There’s been a big push for air conditioning and fans in our public schools so we wanted to find a way to assist in controlling their energy costs as they add this equipment,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service.
Hawaiian Electric is requesting the PUC to make these rates effective by January 5, 2016 and stay in place for ten years, through four to five of the DOE’s two-year budget cycles, to ensure proper evaluation.
Voluntary time-of-use rates were also proposed for residential customers of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaii Electric Light Company. Current residential rates are 24.4 cents per kilowatt hour on Oahu, 30.3 cents per kilowatt hour on Big Island, 26.3 cents per kilowatt hour on Maui, 30.7 cents per kilowatt hour on Molokai, and 32.2 cents per kilowatt hour on Lanai. Based on current fuel prices and other surcharges, if the proposed rates were effective today, they would be as follows:
Customers with energy storage systems would be able to store lower-priced energy generated by their rooftop PV systems during the day and then use some of that stored power to offset some of their energy needs during the evening peak period, maximizing their investment in their rooftop solar and energy storage systems.
Electric Vehicle Owners
Customers that own an Electric Vehicle would also be given the opportunity to select from the rate that would best suit their needs. EV rate options are as follows:
– A revised “whole house” rate that would include EV charging along with all of the electricity use measured by a single electric meter at a customer’s home
– A revised rate for customers who have a separate electric meter just for charging electric vehicles.
– For both EV rate options, there is a proposed mid-day period of 9am to 3pm, an on-peak period of 3pm to 9pm, and an off-peak period of 9pm to 9am.
Time-of-use proposals were submitted as part of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission’s ongoing review of distributed energy resource programs. Before any of these rates are made available to customers, they must be reviewed and approved by the PUC, with input from the Hawaii Division of Consumer Advocacy and other parties in the distributed energy resources proceeding.
If new rates are approved by the PUC, customers and public schools will be able to choose whether they want to switch to the time-of-use rates or remain with the flat rate.
“We want to give our customers options to help them manage their bills and encourage the use of more low cost renewable energy. Rate options like these can give customers choices and help us collectively achieve our state’s 100 percent renewable portfolio standards goal,” Alberts said.