By Ian Brizdle | Dec. 26, 2021
Often it seems to me that at Hawaiian Electric we are guilty of using acronyms for everything. IGP, DER, PBR, PSIP, TOU, the list goes on. If you are not a stakeholder or don’t have some skin in the utility business, these terms, even when fully spelled out, probably mean little to you. So, here’s a new one for you: CER.
This is a topic that I find especially interesting because it really is a customer-focused initiative. It will benefit a wide range of customers as well as provide a critical tool to help us combat climate change and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.
Customer Energy Resources (CER) are YOU. You have the opportunity to provide a small individual service to support our community’s energy needs, especially during the peak hours in the evening in exchange for a credit on your bill.
This service can be storing rooftop solar energy you generate during the middle of the day with a backup battery and supplying some when needed to be used by others. You can also allow us to attach equipment to your devices like water heaters and air conditioners and let the utility turn them off briefly to reduce energy demand. Either way, the main goal is to limit the spikes in demand such as during early evening peak hours because they require more costly (monetarily and environmentally) power generation.
This is not a wholly new concept ̶ we have programs like Fast Demand Response that reward customers willing to temporarily reduce their electricity use during times of need. And some 30,000 customers on Oahu already get a monthly credit for having a small gray box on their water heaters so we can briefly turn them off.
The game changer, in my mind, is the advance in battery storage technology. If you have solar-plus-battery storage at your home, you can get paid by Hawaiian Electric for the brief use of the stored energy. One battery or water heater doesn’t make much of a difference — but stack up thousands of households acting in unison and you have something significant. Hawaiian Electric has contracted with Open Access Technology, Inc.(OATI) and Swell Energy Inc.(Swell) as Customer Energy Resource aggregators, or what we are calling Power Partners. More partners are coming.
Their job is to sign up groups of customers and provide them with clean energy technologies that can be coordinated by the utility to act together during a time of need, which will replace the need to ramp up traditional generation, or even the need to build more power plants.
For programs that they offer like Home Battery Rewards, even if your monthly bill is already near the minimum with your solar and storage solution, Hawaiian Electric will cut you a check if the credits earned from the incentive program take your monthly bill below $0. You can learn more about our Customer Incentive Programs on our website.
As we proceed with our plans to combat climate change, Hawaiian Electric will replace large traditional power plants with both grid-scale renewable energy and smaller distributed Customer Energy Resources, and at the center of the solution is a partnership with YOU.
Ian Brizdle is a manager of web and digital communications at Hawaiian Electric Company.