FERC, Hawaii PUC ink information partnership

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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today announced an information sharing agreement with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (HPUC) that seeks to improve understanding of renewable integration and transmission in the island state.

The Memorandum of Understanding was first signed earlier in November at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners's (NARUC) annual meeting. Hawaii recently opened its largest wind farm to date, a 69MW installation located on Oahu, and has significant challenges transmitting and distributing wind power across its inhabited islands. The agreement will examine microgrid development, as well as work to establish grid reliability standards.

"This agreement is a wonderful opportunity for FERC to gain a greater understanding of the successes and challenges of integrating demand response and renewables and other variable energy resources, through Hawaii's own experiences," FERC Chairman Wellinghoff said in a prepared statement.

HPUC Chair Hermita Morita said, "Combining our resources and experiences in this special partnership helps to problem solve some of the most complex energy challenges in a rapidly changing regulatory environment."

The partnership seems like a relatively small step, but it's welcomed progress in a political climate that is slow to make progress on large-scale energy policies.

"Comprehensive energy legislation is a very heavy lift, both for the [Obama] Administration and for the Congress," said NARUC President Philip Jones in a media briefing earlier this week. He added that energy consumption is only expected to grow over the next 20 to 30 years, and states need to begin thinking now about how to meet this future demand.

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