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Call for renewable energy projects draws over 75 proposals

HECO seeks ideas to transition state from fossil fuel use

The Maui News

Hawaiian Electric Cos. has received more than 75 proposals for renewable energy projects to help accelerate the state’s transition from fossil fuels to complete renewable energy generation by 2045, the utility announced Thursday.

The proposals are for projects on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island and will help replace fossil fuel facilities like the Kahului Power Plant, which is set to retire by the end of 2024, and the coal-fired AES Hawaii plant in Campbell Industrial Park on Oahu, which is due to close by September 2022.

Solar, wind, energy storage and a number of other technologies were among the proposals submitted to Hawaiian Electric, with more than 200 variations on how the resources could be configured. They include proposals on all three islands for grid services from customer-sited resources like private rooftop solar.

Requests for proposals for Molokai and Lanai 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.”

Hawaiian Electric said it is still reviewing the exact number, size and type of proposed projects and noted that some may ultimately drop out.

In its request for proposals in August, Hawaiian Electric called for about 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. All technologies were eligible. Hawaiian Electric said it is the largest single renewable energy procurement effort in Hawaii 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.

The timeline for proposals next year is:

• Companies select priority list: Jan. 17.

• Best and final offers due: Jan. 24.

• Final award group named: May 8.

• Contract negotiations begin: May 15.

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

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 Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island that will add approximately 260 MW 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, Hawaiian Electric said.