LIHUE — Kauai Island Utility Cooperative will conduct a pilot program that offers discounted electric rates to a group of residential customers to encourage them to shift their energy use to the daylight hours to take advantage of the utility’s solar resources.
Under the plan approved by the Public Utilities Commission on Monday, the objectives of KIUC’s Time-of-Use Solar Pilot Program are to broaden community participation in renewable energy programs and reduce the potential for solar energy to be curtailed.
The program will offer a 25 percent discount on standard electric rates from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. That’s a reduction of about 8 cents from the September kilowatt hour rate of 31 cents.
Participation in the one-year program will be limited to 300 residential customers with smart meters. They will be recruited to ensure diversity of household sizes and patterns of electric use, including customers who, for various reasons, are unable to install rooftop solar systems.
With more than 50 megawatts of electricity generated during the day by utility-scale and rooftop photovoltaic systems on Kauai, a key measure of the program’s success is the ability of customers to move a significant amount of their energy use from night to day to take advantage of the lower rates, a practice known as “shifting load.”
If sufficient load shifting occurs, KIUC could avoid having an oversupply of solar during the day, a situation that will lead to curtailing, or limiting, the amount of solar allowed on the grid.
Shifting load would also mean there’s less demand for electricity at night, allowing KIUC to power down some of its oil-fired generators.
Each participant will receive a digital display that monitors real-time usage and a $200 payment toward the installation of a water heater timer or any other device that facilitates load shifting.
KIUC will collect and analyze usage data from each participant before, during and after the experiment to determine the extent to which their consumption profile changes. That data will be used to help KIUC determine whether the program will be expanded to include all customers, potentially including commercial users.
Recruitment of participants is expected to begin in October with the program starting in the first quarter of 2016 and ending in early 2017.