Hawaiian Electric (HECO) announced on January 30 that Millbrae, California-based Stem had completed installation and testing of the utility’s new 1-MW digitally connected energy storage network – designed to enable 29 commercial customer sites to accommodate more renewable energy resources on the Oahu grid.
This represents the operational launch of a $2.1 million pilot program designed to help HECO to evaluate distributed battery storage capacity. The program is being funded in part by the federal Office of Naval Research, which is providing $1 million via the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research’s (PICHTR) Energy Excelerator program.
According to PICHTR, “Installations like these involve the stacking of batteries to allow demand charge reduction for end-users and grid services to the utility. For large commercial and industrial operations, it creates an alternative to reducing their monthly energy expenses.
According to STEM, “Extensive testing confirms that Stem’s software-driven storage acts as a virtual power plant (VPP) to manage diverse load shapes and site characteristics to serve the utility’s real-time needs.”
Stem integrates energy storage hardware with predictive, cloud-based analytics in real-time. The company’s proprietary data analytics software incorporates weather forecasts, as well as historical and real-time usage data, to predict when electric use will peak at a given site. The system rapidly and automatically responds to spikes in electricity use– drawing on stored power to reduce costs for customers without requiring operational changes.
Customers receive access to Stem’s PowerScope, which includes real-time site energy visualization, forecasts and costs. Stem combines this information with data from Hawaiian Electric’s renewable generation monitoring and forecasting so the utility can call upon the stored electricity for added stability during solar generation variability and peak demand times.
“These customer-sited solutions strengthen Hawaiian Electric’s renewable planning as we build toward our commitment to a 100-percent clean energy future,” said Dora Nakafuji, Hawaiian Electric’s director of Renewable Energy Planning. “This shows we can scale behind-the-meter energy storage to create a more stable and efficient grid as we provide customers with higher levels of renewable energy to reduce fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions.”
Most of the systems are installed in family-operated and kama‘aina (or “long-time in Hawai‘i”) commercial firms, small businesses, and institutions. Customers are using Stem technology to reduce their energy costs and integrate their own renewable systems.
Among the customers included in the pilot are Watanabe Floral, Higa Meat Market, Kuroda Auto Body, Menehune Water, American Land, Bello’s Millwork, Commercial Sheetmetal, Hawaiian Mission Academy, University of Hawaii, Cades Schutte Building, Pearl City Shopping Center, and the Honolulu Museum of Art.
Numerous Oahu-based mainland corporate leaders are also participating, including Albertsons, Whole Foods, and Wet’n’Wild water park.
“Hawaiian Electric and the Energy Excelerator are speeding the adoption of cutting-edge energy technology to benefit the people of Hawai‘i, the environment, and the grid,” said Tad Glauthier, Stem VP of Hawai‘i Operations. “The rest of the nation is looking at Hawaii as a leader in renewables and grid modernization, and Stem is proud to be a part of this important transformation.”
In related news, last June, all public elementary, middle, and high schools in the HECO’s service territory received intelligent, energy-monitoring devices and software through a unique collaboration among ; Hawaiian Electric; Energy Excelerator, and the Hawai‘i Department of Education (DOE).