Hawaii: Distributed storage project launched to stabilize grid

With high and rising levels of renewable penetration, the Hawaiian Electric Company is looking for ways to strengthen its grid. In an innovative approach, the utility is working with Stem to see 1 MW of storage added to its grid.

The storage capacity will come in the form of batteries added to commercial and industrial buildings on which there is a solar array. Stem will provide the data analytical services and storage and use the distributed 1 MW of storage to smooth demand spikes, “without affecting operations.”

Stem will approach building owners that have rooftop solar. The selected customers will be compensated for providing the site for the battery installations.

“Hawaii’s renewable energy growth and isolated location present unique and significant challenges for local grid operators,” said John Carrington, CEO of Stem. “Utilities and regulators are watching Hawaii to determine the viability of storage-enabled grid services. We are proud to be working with Hawaiian Electric to address those grid challenges with our technology.”

The project is scheduled for completion in March 2015. The program is part funded through a $1 million grand from the state’s Energy Excelerator program.

“Stem is unique because of their dual impact. They aren’t just reducing costs for individual buildings; they also knit together multiple batteries to enable the integration of more renewable energy system-wide,” said Dawn Lippert, Director and Co-Founder of the Energy Excelerator. “We’re excited about what this means for the future of Hawaii and other markets.”

Hawaii Electric’s Alan Oshima said that the program is part of the utility’s efforts to modernize its grid. “We see energy storage supported by smart grid software as an increasingly essential component of the modern grid,” said Oshima, the incoming president & CEO of Hawaiian Electric.