Hawaii regulators are instructing Hawaiian Electric Co. to bring more clarity and certainty in its draft request for proposals for 200 megawatts or more of renewable energy for Oahu, according to a filing on Thursday with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.
The PUC said that the current draft RFP should be updated to eliminate references to Castle & Cooke’s 200 megawatt Lanai wind farm project, which instead will be reviewed in a separate filing.
Additionally, solicitations for proposals for an undersea cable project will be removed from the existing draft RFP, the PUC said.
Instead, the PUC, in a separate filing, plans to investigate whether an undersea cable system to interconnect the Oahu and Maui electrical grids is in the public interest and if so, under what conditions such a grid-tie cable system should be developed, operated and regulated.
The current draft RFP has become overly complex and involves greater elements of uncertainty, and by giving each of the development segments – potential renewable generation projects, a potential Oahu-Maui interisland undersea cable and a potential Lanai wind project – a separate path for independent progress, the PUC said that it is looking to reduce the number of variables and complexity
Jeff Mikulina, executive director of the Honolulu-based nonprofit Blue Planet Foundation, said in a statement that “this is an effort to shake the trees and identify the best available clean energy options for Hawaii.”
He pointed out that instead of requiring an energy developer to propose both a project and a transmission solution, the PUC is opening the door to a greater pool of possibilities.
For example, he noted that where a transmission improvement for a single project may not make economic sense, grouping a few projects together may help it pencil out.
“The thinking here is to map out the nodes of the network first and then determine how best to connect them,” Mikulina said.
The PUC said that HECO will submit the amended Oahu 200 megawatt RFP for its review, “as soon as reasonably practicable.”
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