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Hawaiian Electric looking for land for renewable energy projects

HILO – Hawaiian Electric Companies announced a search for potential land to house renewable-energy production.

The request for information comes from Hawaiian Electric, Maui electric and the Hawaii Electric Light Co.

HELCO considers the renewable energy effort part of the overall goal “to achieve 100 percent renewable energy.”

Hawaiian Electric Spokesman Darren Pai said when the goal of potential 100 percent renewable energy is looked at “one of the most-important things to consider is land that’s going to be available.”

A statement announcing the request for information asks landowners to provide information about Hawaii Island, Oahu, Maui, Molokai and Lanai properties that might be “available for utility-scale renewable energy projects, such as solar and wind farms, or for growing biofuel feedstock.”

It’s important to consider with solar energy, for example, both private, small, rooftop solar panels and large utility-scale projects, Pai said.

“Mixing it all together is how you achieve 100 percent renewable energy,” he said.

HELCO has previously said it’s essential for stakeholders, including customers, government, business, developers, community groups, environmental groups and utilities, to maintain a mindset of freeing Hawaii from dependence on imported oil.

Hawaiian Electric also is working on a “power supply improvement plan” to demonstrate why it needs certain improvements, such as geothermal energy.

The deadline Hawaiian Electric said it would meet to submit that proposal to the Public Utilities Commission is Dec. 23, Pai said.

“It’s our obligation to meet that deadline,” he said.

The Public Utilities Commission has scheduled a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. tonight in the cafeteria at Hilo High School, 556 Waianuenue Ave., about HELCO’s proposed rate increase, and a second public meeting at the same time Wednesday night at the West Hawaii Civic Center, 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Highway in Kailua-Kona.

HELCO is asking for a rate increase that could raise the typical residential bill by $9.31 a month.