The contract contains a provision that seems to be a “first” in Hawaii. Quoting from HECO’s press release:
In other words, customers on all islands served by HECO and its Maui Electric and HELCO subsidiaries will help pay for power produced by Aina Loa Pono and consumed only by HELCO customers on the Big Island. HECO’s release says the subsidy would add less than 1/3 of a cent per kilowatthour, or between $1.55 and $1.86 per month for customers whose monthly use is between 500 and 600 KHW.
It seems like an innovative way to help spur development and use of renewable energy on one island when the cost of doing so might be too much for that island’s customers to absorb.
Price and terms of the biofuel contract are being kept confidential for now, so we don’t know how much more expensive the locally grown fuel will be per KWH than the fossil fuel it replaces. HECO’s release notes that the cost of oil is likely to surpass the biofuel’s cost over time.
In sum, this seems like a favorable development in Hawaii’s decades-long quest to Get Off Oil, an innovative approach that might find its way into other renewable energy contracts.
As philosophers like to remind us, the ocean connects rather than separates our islands. The new Aina Koa Pono contract is a tangible way for residents of many islands to help the residents of one of them reduce oil imports and keep some of that money at home.