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Big push for renewable energy projects on Maui and Oahu begins

The Maui News

Hawaiian Electric is launching a major push for the next stage of renewable energy projects on Maui and Oahu that could help retire generators that run on imported oil.

For Maui, the company is seeking at least 180 gigawatt hours annually of renewable dispatchable energy and at least 40 megawatts of renewable firm capacity to be in service by 2027, according to a news release from Hawaiian Electric on Wednesday.

Dispatchable means that the company controls when the resource is used — drawing energy from a battery storage system, for example.

Hawaiian Electric has drafted requests for proposals that, once approved by the state Public Utilities Commission, will allow the company to seek a variety of renewable energy and capacity resources on both Maui and Oahu. This includes, but is not limited to, wind, solar, biomass and biofuels. Standalone energy storage proposals will also be accepted.

“Hawaiian Electric is excited to embark on this next round of renewable energy procurements, which seeks to enhance grid reliability and address climate change,” said Rebecca Dayhuff Matsushima, vice president of resource procurement for Hawaiian Electric. “We look forward to working with the community, our regulators and stakeholders to further refine the RFPs as we work together to replace fossil-fueled generation.”

In 2018, Hawaiian Electric began the first phase of Hawaii’s largest procurement effort for renewable energy resources to meet the state’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. The second phase started in 2019. From the first two phases, nearly 600 MW and roughly 3 GWh per year of energy storage are in development and expected to be in service by 2024, according to the company.

In the past, Hawaiian Electric’s requests for proposals have focused exclusively on intermittent resources like solar and wind, according to the news release. However, the company is now seeking firm renewable capacity, which is available at all times, unlike solar and wind. The goal is to create a diverse range of energy-generating resources on both Maui and Oahu.

Hawaiian Electric hopes to issue the final request for proposals on Aug. 31 and put together a priority list on March 17, according to the news release. It plans to name a final award group on Aug. 4, 2023 and begin contract negotiations Aug. 14, 2023. The timeline is subject to regulatory approval.

This third stage will be open to bids from energy developers locally and globally.

A virtual public meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. May 24 to seek input on the draft request for proposals. For more information or to attend via Microsoft Teams, visit hawaiianelectric.com/communitymeetings. The meeting will also stream live on Hawaiian Electric’s Facebook page or on Akaku channel 54.

Participants are encouraged to ask questions and provide feedback during the meetings. Questions can be sent in advance to mauirenewablerfp@hawaiianelectric.com. The virtual meeting will be recorded.

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