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Utility seeks regulatory approval to ship LNG to Hawaii

By Star-Advertiser Staff

LAST UPDATED: 1:13 p.m. HST, Aug 10, 2012

The state’s only natural gas utility has applied with federal regulators to ship liquified natural gas to Hawaii in a move that would give local businesses and residents access to an new and potentially cheaper energy alternative.

HAWAI'IGAS, formerly known as The Gas Company, is seeking approval to bring in liquified natural gas from the West Coast in refrigerated tanks mounted inside shipping containers. HAWAI'IGAS’ later would use specialized ships to transport larger quantities of LNG to the islands under a three-phase plan.

The application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is the first regulatory approval sought by HAWAI'IGAS under the plan announced by the company several months ago. HAWAI'IGAS also will have to obtain approval from other federal and state regulators, including the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.

The company plans to bring in the first shipments of LNG by year’s end, said Jeff Kissel, president and chief executive officer of HAWAI'IGAS.

HAWAI'IGAS would make LNG available to its 68,000 customers statewide who currently use more expensive synthetic natural gas and propane. HAWAI'IGAS also plans to seek new customers, including electric utilities that generate most of their power by burning petroleum.

LNG, which is significantly cheaper than oil, is the second-largest source of electricity generation in the U.S. after coal. Hawaii is the only state with no power plants fueled by natural gas.

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