Thursday, August 25, 2011

PUC Rejects HECO on ‘Big Wind,’ Directs New RFP

The “Big Wind” soap opera continues here in Hawaii even as Vermont residents add to the drama surrounding proposed utility-scale wind energy projects.

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission has rejected a Hawaiian Electric Company request to allow it it to assign half of the 400-MW neighbor island wind energy project to a new developer on Molokai. No dice, said the PUC, which ordered the utility to submit a new request for proposals for that amount of power.

Civil Beat is following the Big Wind story closely and summarizes the most recent action at its website, along with earlier developments; the PUC’s order is also linked there. We note the following from CB’s story today:

“The Molokai wind farm is still a possibility. But Hawaiian Electric must put out a RFP for 200 mw of renewable energy, which can now be sited on any island that can reasonably reach Oahu via a cable, or on Oahu itself. The RFP also must be open to any technology, not just wind. The 200 mw Lanai portion of the project is permitted to proceed, but must gain final PUC approval.”

Ocean thermal energy conversion could be an “any technology” – another glimmer of a possibility that OTEC has a direct and applicable future in the islands. An OTEC plant parked 2 or 3 miles off the Kahe power plant on Oahu would require no extensive cabling to deliver its power to the power grid here. And with a capacity factor near 100 perceent compared to Big Wind’s anticipated CF of 40 percent or less, OTEC would be the better option.

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