NewEnergyNews: ORIGINAL REPORTING: Hawaii Regulators Accept The Utility’s New Energy Plan To Move Ahead

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    Wednesday, February 14, 2018

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Hawaii Regulators Accept The Utility’s New Energy Plan To Move Ahead

    Love the one you're with: Hawaii regulators begrudgingly accept HECO energy plan; The order accepting Hawaiian Electric's third plan to get to 100% renewable energy leaves contentious cost and procurement debates to future dockets

    Herman K. Trabish, July 27, 2017 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: As stakeholders predicted, the commission’s acceptance of this plan has allowed debate on New Energy to expand.

    Last year, Hawaii utility regulators accepted the third version of their utility’s long-term plan to reach 100% renewable energy. But the PUC stopped short of outright approval, warning that Hawaiian Electric’s (HECO) roadmap fails to fully justify its proposed expenditures. The commission ruling applauded the utility’s short-term ambition to acquire renewables in its Power Supply Improvement Plan (PSIP). But it repeatedly warned HECO that the plan requires improvements and further analysis of proposed investments. Many planned near-term power acquisitions “are supported by sound analysis and are consistent with state energy policy,” the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) reported in the final ruling in docket 2014-0183. But some are "not sufficiently justified.” And the commission warned it remained concerned with the affordability of the Companies' plans.

    Why would the PUC accept what it sees as a questionable plan? The answer lies in the coming phase-out of federal tax incentives for renewable energy. To procure renewables most cost-effectively, HECO “must move quickly to enable customers to benefit from available tax credits,” regulators wrote. Both the federal investment tax credit, which supports solar development, and the federal production tax credit, which supports wind, expire in the early 2020s. Colton Ching, a HECO senior vice president, applauded the ruling because it allows the utility allows the utility to move ahead on its renewables objectives “and take advantage of the tax credits.” There is a “definite difference between ‘accept’ and ‘approve’ but we never expected approval in this docket,” he said. Earthjustice Attorney Isaac Moriwake, who represented Sierra Club in the PSIP docket, agreed the plan’s “big positive” is that it allows HECO to move ahead. But the ruling also represents regulatory resignation… click here for more

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