Hawaii regulator approves $25 million grid services contract


Smart grid solutions firm Swell Energy has announced that the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved its $25 million contract with Hawaiian Electric for the delivery of various grid services through an aggregated virtual power plant (VPP).

The virtual power plant (VPP) will be deployed on three islands namely Oahu, Maui and Hawaii.

Swell Energy will deploy behind-the-meter solar-powered home batteries to approximately 6,000 residential customers to create a comprehensive VPP.

The project will deliver more than 25MW of solar power paired with over 80MW of batteries and 100MWh of stored energy, delivering capacity and frequency response to the three island grids while also reducing bills for participating customers.

The contract was awarded in response to Hawaiian Electric’s request for dispatchable energy storage and renewable generation through distributed energy resources along with capacity and ancillary services to ensure adequate supply and power system reliability across the Hawaiian Electric service territory.

The large-scale commercial VPP in Hawaii represents an important advance in battery technology and capability. It will augment Hawaiian Electric’s energy supply by relieving the grids of excess renewable energy as production spikes and absorbing excess wind energy when needed, thereby reducing peak demand and providing 24/7 fast frequency response to balance the grids. The renewable energy storage systems will collectively respond to grid needs dynamically, moment-to-moment.

The first phase of the project will be launched in partnership with Hawaiian-based residential solar company RevoluSun.

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The project is one of several VPPs that Swell Energy is launching with other investor-owned utilities and community-choice aggregation programmes in the US.

Suleman Khan, CEO of Swell Energy, said: “An agreement of this scale and scope was required to support Hawaiian Electric’s clean energy goals across the three islands. Providing this level of capacity and ancillary services establishes a new standard for virtual power plants and builds on Swell Energy’s deployments across the mainland United States. This fleet of dispatchable energy resources benefits the utility and allows customers to save money and come together to form a more resilient grid.”

Yoh Kawanami, Hawaiian Electric customer energy resources co-director, adds: “Our islands have small, stand-alone grids with a high-level of renewable generation, which makes them sensitive to supply and demand imbalances.”

“This project is an important opportunity for Hawaiian Electric and Swell Energy to develop an innovative portfolio of customer-sited resources that meet a variety of grid requirements, while providing additional choices and benefits for our customers.”