Hawaii PUC approves 25-MW solar plus 80-MW/100-MWh storage virtual power plant

Swell Energy, Inc. today 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) on three islands.

Swell Energy, a California-based energy and smart grid solutions provider, will deploy behind-the-meter solar-powered home batteries to approximately 6,000 residential customers to create a comprehensive VPP on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii islands.

Swell’s VPPs are based on an aggregated network of distributed energy resources (DER) that provide a variety of benefits to utilities and their customers. This large-scale commercial VPP in Hawaii represents an important advance in battery technology and capability.

The Hawaii program will deliver more than 25-megawatts of solar power capacity paired with over 80-megawatts of batteries and 100-megawatt-hours 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 DER along with capacity and ancillary services to ensure adequate supply and power system reliability across the Hawaiian Electric service territory.

Swell Energy will augment Hawaiian Electric’s energy supply by relieving the grids of excess renewable energy as production spikes and absorbing excess 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.

“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,” said Suleman Khan, CEO of Swell Energy.

The program is available to Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island customers who are seeking solar energy with a home battery for back-up capability, as well as those who already have solar systems with storage installed. This is one of several VPPs that Swell Energy is launching with other investor-owned utilities and community-choice aggregation programs in the U.S. Notably, the Hawaii program will form Swell Energy’s largest VPP to date.

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

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