A pioneering Grid Services Purchase Agreement between the Hawaiian Electric Companies and Minneapolis-based Open Access Technology International, Inc. (OATI) has been approved by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, advancing a project to bring Hawaii customers more renewable energy choices.

The approval allows the OATI Energy Alliance, a team of industry-leading companies, to aggregate, forecast, and control customer-owned behind-the-meter distributed energy resources to supply grid services to Hawaiian Electric on multiple islands.

As renewable energy, especially private distributed energy resources like customer-sited rooftop solar systems, becomes more common, it is essential to coordinate and integrate these resources to keep electric grids stable and reliable. These functions, known as ancillary services, go beyond generation and transmission to maintain grid stability and security, including frequency control, spinning reserves and operating reserves.

OATI will create a cloud-based system to provide these services by aggregating multiple distributed energy resources such as solar PV, battery systems and grid-enabled water heaters, to help the islands’ grids and further accommodate variable renewable resources.

In January 2018 the PUC approved a comprehensive portfolio of programs, collectively known as demand response programs, to reward customers of the Hawaiian Electric Companies who can use their own equipment to participate in the management of the electricity grid. After an extensive competitive bidding process, Hawaiian Electric chose OATI and executed the first contract to provide these grid services.

With OATI’s webSmartEnergy system and operations center, the supply of grid services will be managed 24×7, in real-time, with secure data communications to support grid reliability and provide balancing services needed in support of increasing levels of renewable energy sources.

“We are excited to work with Hawaiian Electric and our Alliance members to develop a strong, dynamic, and beneficial Grid Services Program,” said Sasan Mokhtari, Ph.D, president and CEO of OATI. “This momentous project exemplifies the shift to a distribution-centric grid and enables Hawaiian Electric’s customers to interactively power this new system.”

“This is the first of what we hope will be many offerings to support our customers and provide opportunities to participate in our clean energy movement,” said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service. “We look forward to working with OATI as our first aggregator partner in Hawaii to offer customers these new opportunities to decrease their bills while supporting our 100 percent clean energy goals.”