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MECO seeks to refurbish power plant turbine

The Maui News – Maui Electric Co. is seeking approval by the state Public Utilities Commission to refurbish one of its 21-megawatt petroleum-fired turbines at the Maalaea Power Plant, which will cost an estimated $2.6 million.

In its filing July 12, MECO said that the General Electric combustion turbine is reaching its 50,000 service hour recommended overhaul. It is expected to exceed that threshold in October 2018.

PUC approval is required because the work tops $2.5 million. The project is estimated to cost consumers an average of 21 cents per 500-kilowatt hours from 2019, when the refurbished turbine is expected to go back online, to 2026, when the next 50,000-hour interval is expected to be reached, the filing said.

The price tag includes capital costs to support long-term operations of the unit through at least 2045, the filing said.

The timetable calls for the removal of the turbine in October 2018 and the installation and completion of the project in May 2019, the filing said. The turbine will be shipped to Air New Zealand. The company is certified by GE and will be doing the turbine refurbishing.

This unit, M19, first came online in September 2000. The unit’s last major overhaul was in November 2009.

MECO will install a spare engine in place of the unit during the six-month overhaul period, the filing said.

MECO’s four combustion turbines have the highest rated output of the company’s units and provide the regulating reserves needed to integrate as-available renewable energy, such as rooftop solar, into the MECO system, the filing said.