More than 75 renewable projects competing for role in islands’ clean energy transition

Solar, wind, storage part of strong response to state’s largest procurement effort

Via Helco: More than 75 proposals have been received in response to the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ call for more renewable energy resources to accelerate the state’s transition off fossil fuels used for the generation of electricity.

The proposals are for projects on Oahu, Maui and Hawai‘i Island. This total includes proposals on all three islands for grid services from customer-sited resources like private rooftop solar.

The exact number, size and type of proposed projects are still being reviewed by Hawaiian Electric’s renewable acquisitions team and some may ultimately drop out. The proposals include bids to use solar, wind, energy storage and a number of other technologies, and the submissions include more than 200 variations on how the resources could be configured.

Requests for proposals for Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi are expected to be issued later this year with proposals due in early 2020.

“We’re really pleased by the strong response, both in the number of projects and the diversity of approaches,” said Jim Alberts, senior vice president for business development and strategic planning. “Seeing such a robust response from the market is really encouraging. A lot has to fall in place to make this all work but if we’re successful with these projects and others already underway we’ll be well past the halfway mark to achieving the state’s 100 percent renewable energy goal.”

Approximately 900 megawatts of new renewables or renewables paired with storage – generating about 2 million megawatt-hours annually, as well as 210 MW of grid services – were sought in the request for proposals issued by the companies in August. All technologies were eligible. It is the largest single renewable energy procurement effort in Hawai‘i and among the largest by a U.S. utility.

Because the projects are subject to a competitive bidding process, the companies don’t plan to release more detailed information about the sizes, types and locations proposed until the final award groups are named in May 2020.

Pending negotiations and final approvals by the Public Utilities Commission, the first renewable projects would come online in 2022.

For O‘ahu, new renewable generation and storage is needed to replace the 180-megawatt coal-fired AES Hawai‘i plant in Campbell Industrial Park due to close by September 2022. It is the largest single generator on O‘ahu, meeting 16 percent of peak demand. For Maui, new renewable generation and storage is needed for the planned retirement of Kahului Power Plant by the end of 2024.

The timeline for proposals is:

Companies select priority listJanuary 17, 2020
Best and final offers dueJanuary 24, 2020
Final award group namedMay 8, 2020
Contract negotiations beginMay 15, 2020

Hawaiian Electric’s guiding principles in seeking renewable energy and grid services include transparency, predictability and streamlining to lower costs for customers, with community engagement essential to success.

In the first phase of the renewable procurement, completed in 2018, the companies negotiated contracts for eight projects on three islands. Regulators approved seven projects on O‘ahu, Maui and Hawai‘i Island that will add approximately 260 megawatts of solar energy with over 1 gigawatt-hour of storage by the end of 2021.  One project is pending commission approval. 

The stable, long-term prices negotiated for those projects are significantly lower than the current cost of fossil fuel generation.

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