Swell Energy Pairs with Hawaiian Electric to Create Virtual Power Plant

Jan. 19, 2021
Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission approved a $25 million contract with Swell Energy to deliver a virtual power plant (VPP) for Hawaiian Electric customers on three islands.

Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission approved a $25 million contract with Swell Energy to deliver a virtual power plant for Hawaiian Electric customers on three islands.   

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

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

Hawaiian Electric chose Swell Energy as the result of a request for dispatchable energy storage and renewable generation through distributed energy resources and capacity and ancillary services. The utility sought the resources to ensure adequate power supply and reliability across its service territory.

Swell Energy will augment Hawaiian Electric’s energy supply by relieving excess renewable energy from the grid as production spikes and absorbing wind energy when needed. This response reduces peak demand and provides a fast response to balance the grid. The renewable energy storage systems will collectively respond to grid needs dynamically, moment-to-moment.

“Our islands have small, stand-alone grids that are sensitive to supply and demand imbalances,” said Yoh Kawanami, customer energy resources co-director of Hawaiian Electric. “This project is an important opportunity for Hawaiian Electric and Swell Energy to develop a portfolio of resources that meet a variety of grid requirements and provide additional choices for our customers.”

The program is available to Oahu, Maui and Hawaii customers who are seeking solar energy with a home battery for backup capability and those who already have solar systems with storage. 

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

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Sharon Bennett

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