Friday, October 3, 2008

Lanai Solar Project Is Priced Below Avoided Cost; HECO Mulling Energy Proposals, Including OTEC

Here’s a tip for readers who want in-depth reporting on just about any business-related issue in Maui County: Harry Eager of The Maui News will give you more and better coverage, as he did this week in his story on Maui Electric’s deal to purchase solar photovoltaic power on the island of Lanai. Eager, who does the paper’s business reporting, almost “over covers” his subjects, if that’s possible, but his coverage of the MECO deal compared to what’s in the Honolulu papers shows it’s no contest.

For example, the not-insignificant detail about how much MECO will pay for the power isn’t even in the Honolulu Advertiser’s story – which as it turns out was supplied by Castle & Cooke Hawaii under a Reader-Submitted banner. (This isn’t a media criticism blog, but we can’t help but wonder about the practice of reprinting press releases supplied by one of the parties involved in a significant renewable energy deal.)

As Eager reports, MECO will pay Lanai Sustainability Research, LLC, a Castle & Cooke company, 27 cents per kilowatthour for the power, which is below MECO’s avoided cost to run its diesel generators on the island. Mainland readers probably will wince at that price, since the national average for all retail sectors in May 2008 was about one-third that level – 9.49 cents/kwh, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Eager’s story is recommended to catch up on the goal of achieving 100 percent of Lanai’s energy needs from renewable energy, including for transportation needs.

Searching for 100+ MW of Clean Power

Elsewhere, the Advertiser does a better job of reporting (by a staff writer) on Hawaiian Electric’s request for proposals for 100 megawatts of renewable energy. This blog naturally is pleased that ocean thermal energy conversion is under consideration.

OTEC supporters were enthused over the recent comments by HECO on the importance ocean energy technologies have for Hawaii, so we continue our optimism that the country’s first commercial OTEC plant will be included in HECO’s final selection of renewable suppliers. The company hasn’t set a deadline for that selection, according to the Advertiser story.

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