PUC Docket Proceedings

Overview

Energy is one of the sectors regulated by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Established in 1913, the Hawaii PUC’s primary duty is to protect consumers by overseeing and regulating public utilities. That means, ensuring safe, reliable service is provided at just and reasonable rates. The PUC’s role has expanded from traditional utility regulation involving rate cases, major project approvals (e.g. capital projects, fuel supply agreements, power purchase agreements), and review of long-term plans to oversight over major energy policy directives and program implementation. Below is a summary of the major ongoing energy policy docket proceedings. For more information, docket filings can be accessed by inputting the docket number or searching by keyword.

(Status: Open)

The PUC initiated this docket in April 2018 to explore new opportunities for evaluating and updating the State’s utility regulatory framework in light of a transforming electric power system—from one that relies on mainly centralized fossil-fuel generation to more distributed renewable energy sources such as rooftop solar photovoltaic systems. A week later, the Governor signed into law SB2939 SD2, which requires the PUC to establish performance incentive and penalty mechanisms that directly link electric utility revenues to the utility’s achievement on performance metrics by 2020. This docket will shift the regulatory framework from what is referred to as cost-of service regulation, in which utility’s ability to earn money is closely tied to its capital investment, to performance based regulation (PBR), which follows an incentive structure that rewards the utility for specific outcomes and objectives. While both models are intended to allow the utility to earn fair compensation for providing quality service, the latter allows for aligning financial incentives with the public interest.

The docket proceeding is divided into two phases. Phase 1 covers evaluation and assessment, focusing on building a foundational goals-outcomes hierarchy, current regulatory assessment, and performance metrics. Phase 2 addresses design and implementation, focusing on refining and/or modifying the current regulatory framework through performance incentive mechanisms, revenue adjustment mechanisms, and other regulatory reforms.

Actions taken:

  •  In May 2019, the Commission ordered that the principles, goals, and outcomes from phase 1 to be used in phase 2. Phase 2 will focus on the development of a portfolio of Revenue Adjustment Mechanisms and Performance Mechanisms. Revenue Adjustment Mechanisms include an examination and development of a five-year MRP with an ARA, and appropriate adjustments to the MPIR adjustment mechanism. Performance Mechanisms include a development of reported metrics, scorecards, new PIMs to complement the existing PIMs for reliability and customer service and SSMs (Decision and Order No. 36326).
  •  In June 2019, convened Phase 2 convened and a procedural schedule was established (Decision and Order No. 36388).

PBR Goals and Outcomes Matrix

In the first phase of the PBR docket, 12 intervenors filed several briefs, including on goals and outcomes, regulatory assessment, and metrics, to guide the PBR framework and inform the type of evaluation approach that will be used for assessment. HEPF developed a matrix highlighting where there is common ground and where there are differences in terms of goals, outcomes, and metrics, making note of concerns and changes relative to those presented in the PUC Staff Report #1.

(Status: Open)

The PUC opened Docket No. 2018-0135 as a repository for Hawaiian Electric Companies’ Electrification of Transportation (EoT) Strategic Roadmap. This came out of a related docket (Docket No. 2016-0168) which required Hawaiian Electric Companies to submit a plan detailing their participation in fostering EV adoption and charging opportunities, following the extension of their commercial public charging station pilot program (Schedules EV-F and EV-U) thru June 30, 2023. The EoT Roadmap describes near- and long-term strategies for creating a clean energy future in Hawaii through reducing the State’s dependence on fossil fuels, in-line with Hawaii’s goal for utilities to produce 100% of their electricity from renewable resources by 2045. In the Roadmap, the Companies analyze the benefits of increased electrification of transportation for Oahu and outline ten initiatives aimed at accelerating the adoption of EVs in Hawaii, ranging from education and outreach, lowering EV purchase costs, opportunities for public, workplace and residential smart charging, and engaging the tourism industry, to the electrification of buses and other medium and heavy-duty vehicles. 

Actions taken:

Related Docket: 2016-0168, Transmittal 12-05, 12-07, 2019-0000, Transmittal 18-06.

HEPF EoT Roadmap Summary Matrix

Based on the comments filed in response to Hawaiian Electric Companies’ Electrification of Transportation (EoT) Strategic Roadmap which outlined ten initiatives, HEPF created a matrix summarizing selected stakeholder comments and ranking of near-term priorities.

(Status: Open)

The PUC initiated this docket in July 2018 to investigate Hawaiian Electric Companies’ proposed integrated grid planning (IGP) process, which through stakeholder engagement, a technical advisory panel, and working groups, intends to merge three separate planning processes (generation, transmission, and distribution) while addressing procurement. The goal is to identify gross system needs, coordinate solutions, and develop an optimized, cost effective portfolio of assets. As IGP integrates all levels of the system, it differs from the traditional resource planning framework known as Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) (between 1990-2014) and subsequent Power Supply Improvement Plan (between 2014-2017). The IGP process was originally raised as part of Hawaiian Electric Companies’ Grid Modernization Strategy.

According to Hawaiian Electric Companies’ IGP report: Planning Hawaii’s Grid for Future Generations, Integrated Planning Report, the process will be conducted in four steps:

  1. Forecasts and Planning Inputs
  2. Resource Needs and Sourcing
  3. Transmission and Distribution Needs and Alternatives
  4. Near-term Action Plan and Long-term Pathway

Hawaiian Electric Companies propose to complete the bulk of the planning process in 18 months and conduct an IGP cycle every two years, with the first cycle beginning in 2019, resulting in the first plan by the end of 2020.

Actions taken:

 In March 2019, the PUC accepted the IGP work plan filed in December 2018. The work plan includes a summary and description of the IGP process including forecasts, planning inputs, identifying and quantifying system needs, a methodology and process for sourcing solutions, and solution evaluation and optimization. The work plan also includes a stakeholder engagement model consisting of broad engagement, a stakeholder council, working groups and technical advisory panel. The work plan provides a detailed timeline for IGP events, process descriptions, and details of each working group (Decision and Order No. 36218).

(Status: Open)

The PUC initiated this docket, in order to proceed with competitive procurement of dispatchable firm generation and new renewable energy generation. On July 14, 2017, the Commission issued an order accepting the Companies’ Power Supply Improvement Plans (“PSIPs”), which set forth the Companies’ intention to competitively procure new grid-scale generation resources. Those plans included procurement of nearly 400 MW of new renewable resources across the HECO Companies’ service territories by 2021. This docket is opened in order for the commission to receive filings, review approval requests, and resolve disputes if necessary in the request for proposals (RFPs) process.

The Framework prescribes that the following steps should take place prior to distributing the Final RFPs:

  1. The utility determines how to incorporate certain recommendations from interested parties in the draft RFPs;
  2. The utility submits its final, proposed RFPs to the Commission for its review and approval (and modification if necessary) according to the following procedure:
    1. The Independent Observer shall submit its comments and recommendations to the Commission concerning the RFPs and all attachments, simultaneously with the electric utility’s proposed RFPs.
    2. The utility shall have the right to issue the RFPs if the Commission does not direct the utility to do otherwise within thirty (30) days after the Commission receives the proposed RFPs and the Independent Observer’s comments and recommendations.

Actions taken:

  • In January 2018, the PUC provided guidance on the HECO Companies Proposed Request for Proposals for Dispatchable and Renewable Generation and appointed independent observers (IO) to serve as the monitor of the competitive bidding process and to report on the progress and results to the commission (Decision and Order No. 35224).
  • On April 6, 2018, the commission issued Order No. 35405 establishing Performance Incentive Mechanisms (PIMs) applicable to procurement in Phase 1 of the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ Final Variable Request for Proposals (Decision and Order No. 35405)
  • In September 2018, additional shared-savings performance incentive mechanisms were approved up to cap of $3,000,000, applicable to power purchase agreements (PPAs) beyond the Base PPAs that the Companies submit to the commission by March 31, 2019 (Decision and Order No. 35664).
  • Related: in March, 2019, six solar-plus-storage projects were approved on three islands (power purchase agreements filed in Docket Numbers 2018-0430, 2018-0431, 2018-0432, 2018-0434, 2018-0435, 2018-0436).
  • On July 10, 2019, Proposed Final Stage 2 RFPs for the islands of Oahu, Hawaii, and Maui were filed with the Commission.

Related Dockets No: 2014-0183, 2011-0038, 2003-0372 (Competitive Bidding Framework); also 2018-0433 and 2019-0050.

(Status: Open)

This docket was opened in June 2018 following Hawaiian Electric Companies’ application for approval to commit funds in excess of $2.5 million for Phase 1 of its Grid Modernization Project. Their Grid Modernization Strategy aims to empower customer’s choice; provide safe, reliable, and affordable services; enable distributed resources to become a vital part of Hawaii’s renewable portfolio; and leverage the electric grid to spur economic growth in Hawaii’s communities. First, Hawaiian Electric Companies propose to focus work on “foundational core investments and those investments necessary to resolve the service quality issues” associated with distributed energy resources (DER) growth. Next, Hawaiian Electric Companies will “identify and assess” grid modernization investments based on the benefits they provide in relation to the Companies’ distributed resources forecast and the State’s 100% renewable energy goal.

Actions taken:

  • In March 2019, the Commission approved the Companies application. The Companies shall track a project cost savings and operational benefits associated with Phase 1. Starting on June 30, 2019, the Companies shall file in this docket, semi-annual progress. (Decision and Order No. 36230).

Related Docket No: 2017-0226, 2016-0087.

(Status: Open)

The PUC initiated this docket in July 2018 to investigate the establishment of a microgrid services tariff as directed under Act 200, 2018 Session Laws of Hawaii to encourage and facilitate the development and use of microgrids. A microgrid is a group of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources within clearly defined electrical boundaries that acts as a single controllable entity with respect to the utility’s electrical grid and can connect to public utility’s electrical grid to operate in grid-connected mode and can disconnect from the grid to operate in island mode. Some of the preliminary questions that this docket will address is the coordination of existing tariffs and programs, modification of interconnection standards and procedures, and consideration of services and functions in the microgrid services tariff.

(Status: Closed)

This docket was opened in December 2015 following Hawaiian Electric Companies’ application for approval of a demand response program portfolio tariff, reporting schedule, and cost recovery of program costs through the demand-side management surcharge. Demand response (DR) programs focus on peak reduction and are designed to modify customer use of electricity so as to permit the most efficient and cost-effective operation of the electrical system. DR programs use two basic mechanisms: time-based pricing (ex: on-peak/off-peak pricing, real time pricing) or an automated or manual control program).

This is a continuation of Docket No. 2007-0341 to develop a framework for a demand response (DR) portfolio that can assist in the integration of additional renewable resources onto the grid, contribute to system reliability, and offer customers greater control over their energy usage while offering the possibility of lower customer bills. Ultimately, the vision is for DR to mature to become a fundamental component of a virtual power plant of renewable distributed energy resources (DER).

Actions taken:

  • In January 2018, the PUC approved Hawaiian Electric Companies’ revised DR portfolio tariff, resulting in four grid service rules (capacity grid service, fast frequency response grid service, regulating reserve grid service, and replacement reserve grid service) and rate schedules and riders upon which the DR programs are to be deployed in support of the grid service rules. Customers will receive compensation by allowing third-party providers, also known as “aggregators”, to control their equipment to help manage the grid (Decision and Order No. 35238).

Related Docket Nos: 2007-0341, 2005-0069

(Status: Closed)

The PUC initiated this docket in August 2014 to investigate the technical, economic, and policy issues associated with distributed energy resources (DER). Distributed energy resources include distributed generation, energy efficiency, demand response, electric vehicles, and distributed energy storage. This docket has resulted in the approval of revisions to interconnection standards for inclusion in Hawaiian Electric Companies’ Tariff Rule 14H as well as new program offerings (customer self-supply, customer grid-supply, customer grid-supply plus, smart export, net energy metering plus) following the closure of net energy metering (NEM) to new participants in 2015. These interconnection standards and programs aim to expand customer options and ensure that customers can efficiently interconnect new DER systems that are configured to provide grid-supportive benefits. This docket also established a residential time-of-use pilot to incent customers to shift their electricity consumption from the evening hours to the mid-day when the sun is shining. This evolution in DER policies is essential given the State’s commitment to meet a 100% renewable portfolio standard by 2045.

Phase 1 of this docket focused on establishing a transitional market structure for DERs. Phase 2 of this proceeding, builds upon the transitional market structure established to develop a set of longer-term policies to enable continued beneficial deployment of DER across the State. This will include an evaluation of opportunities to integrate and aggregate various forms of DER (e.g., solar PV, energy storage, demand response, etc.) to enhance their value, adoption of new technical requirements for safely and reliably interconnecting DER, as well as detailed consideration of regulatory policies (including rate design) appropriate for cost-effectively acquiring these resources.

Actions taken:

Related Docket Nos: 2011-0206 (Reliability Standards); 2014-0130 (Tariff Rule 14H); 2015-0410 (Department of Education Time-Of-Use Rates)

(Status: Open)

This docket was opened in October 2015 to review an application for approval to establish a rule to implement a community-based renewable energy (CBRE) program. Community-Based Renewable Energy (“CBRE”), also known as shared renewables, allows customers who cannot site solar, small wind, or other renewable distributed generation on their own property to participate directly in off-site projects through a bill credit arrangement. Act 100, 2015 Session Laws of Hawaii, required each electric utility file, a proposed community-based renewable energy tariff or tariffs for the commission’s review and “establish[ment,]” provided that said tariff or tariffs “are found to be in the public interest.”

The program consists of two phases, each of which includes a capacity limit, as well as a time limit, to help ensure technical integration with minimal impact to grid stability, and successful implementation from a customer experience standpoint regarding bill crediting and customer service. Phase 1 aims to establish foundational capabilities and gain experiential learning. Towards this end, eight megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) program capacity was made available across Hawaiian Electric Companies’ service territories, with capacity amounts and credit rates varying by island. Phase 2 is intended to be the long-term continuation of the CBRE Program with allocated capacity to be released in increments, based on the utilities’ periodically updated resource plans and market demand. It will also encompass periodic program updates based upon customer needs and lessons learned. Phase 2 is more sophisticated in design as it incorporates time-varying credit rates and extends the program to peaker facilities that produce at least 85% of their average monthly output during on-peak hours and utility-owned facilities that serve at least 50% of low-to-moderate income customers.

Actions taken:

Related Docket No: 2015-0382, 2018-0195

Act 211, Session Laws of Hawaii 2013, established a regulatory financing structure authorizing the public utilities commission and the department of business, economic development, and tourism to acquire and provide alternative low-cost financing through a financing program to make green infrastructure installations accessible and affordable for Hawaii’s consumers, achieve measurable cost savings, and achieve Hawaii’s clean energy goals. The commission approved the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism to use funds in the Green Infrastructure Special Fund to establish and institute a Green Infrastructure Loan Program also known as the Green Energy Market Securitization Program (GEMS) (Order No. 32318; 32281). The program is administered by the Hawaii Green Infrastructure Authority.

Actions taken:

(Status: Open)

The PUC initiated Docket No. 2007-0323 to examine the issues and requirements raised by and contained in Part VII of Chapter 269, Sections 269-121, et seq., Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) pertaining to Hawaii’s Public Benefits Fund.  HRS §§ 269-121 and 269-122 authorize the commission to contract with a third party administrator to operate and manage energy efficiency and demand-side management (DSM) programs in the State and to assess a Public Benefits Fund (PBF) surcharge to support those programs. By statute, the PUC may also redirect all or a portion of the funds collected by Hawaiian Electric Companies through the current DSM surcharge to the third party administrator. This docket continues to set the PBF surcharge for each year. It also is where the PBF Administrator, Hawaii Energy, files its Annual Plan. These energy efficiency programs are intended to help Hawaii meet its Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standards (EEPS), which require a 30% reduction, or 4,300 GWh in electricity demand relative to a 2008 baseline by 2030; Docket No. 2010-0037 lays out a framework for meeting the standard. The EEPS consists of the EEPS Technical Working Group and Public Benefit Portfolio Technical Advisory Group who make recommendations in support of the evaluation and policy process.

 Related Dockets Nos: 2010-0037, 2005-0069

Actions Taken:

  • Refer to docket for actions taken prior to 2019.
  • In May 2019, Leidos Inc. submitted their Triennial Plan and proposed public benefits fee budget for program year 2019-2021 (Decision and Order No. 36289).
  •  In June 2019, the PUC set the 2019 Program Year PBF Surcharge and requested a supplemental addendum by July 12, 2019 to respond and address the concerns raised by the Division of Consumer Advocacy (Decision and Order No. 36383).
  • In July 2019, Leidos Inc. filed their Response of Hawai’i Energy as the Public Benefits Fee Administrator to the Division of Consumer Advocacy’s Comments Filed May 31, 2019 Regarding Hawai’i Energy’s Triennial Plan Program Year 19-21 and Supplemental Addendum.

(Status: Closed)

The PUC initiated this docket to re-examine the existing decoupling mechanism (established in Docket 2008-0274), to determine whether it is serving its intended purpose, is fair to Hawaiian Electric Companies and its ratepayers, and is in the public interest. Decoupling is a regulatory tool that modifies the traditional rate-making model where utility revenues is tied to electricity consumption (i.e. increased electricity sales translates to higher revenue; under decoupling, Hawaiian Electric Companies is guaranteed a PUC-approved revenue regardless of the quantity of electricity sold. This is intended to align the financial interests of Hawaiian Electric Companies’ with that of Hawaii’s clean energy goals (e.g. renewable energy and energy efficiency). The decoupling mechanism is comprised of two components: the Revenue Balancing Account (RBA) and the Revenue Adjust Mechanism (RAM). The RBA serves to “de-link” or decouple revenues from the amount of electricity sold and adjusts monthly on one’s utility bill. The RAM serves to compensate Hawaiian Electric Companies for changes in utility costs and infrastructure investment between rate cases, which the utilities must file every three years. This docket resulted in a cap on the RAM and revisions to the RBA tariffs (Decision and Order No. 31908 and Order No. 32735), reporting of performance metrics on Hawaiian Electric Companies’ website, and the establishment of performance incentive mechanisms related to reliability and customer service.

Related Docket No. 2008-0274

Last updated 10/1/19