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HECO proposes building state's largest solar PV project

By Star-Advertiser staff

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 04:13 p.m. HST, Oct 23, 2013

<br /><br />@Caption1:<*h"No hyphens">Hawaiian Electric Co. could save <br />40 percent to <br />52 percent at its Kahe power plant, above, if it switches to liquefied natural gas instead of continuing to burn low-sulfur fuel oil, a report said.<br />

Hawaiian Electric Co. is proposing to build the state's largest solar photovoltaic energy project next to its Kahe Generating Station that would deliver power to the grid at a cost nearly 40 percent below what the utility pays to generate electricity by burning oil.

The 15-megawatt project would be the first PV facility owned and operated by HECO. The utility has selected SolarCity to build the project, which is subject to approval by the state Public Utilities Commission.

HECO officials estimate the facility would save ratepayers $64 million in reduced fuel costs over the 30-year estimated life of the project. The Kahe Generating Station burns primarly low-sulfur fuel oil to generate electricity.

The solar facility would be able to produce electricity at a cost equivalent to a power purchase agreement with a price of 14.5 cents a kilowatt hour, according to HECO. That compares favorably with the 22.7 cents a kilowatt hour it costs to produce electricity from oil, according to HECO.

"This is a unique opportunity that  benefits our customers because it allows us to quickly develop more low-cost clean energy," said Ron Cox, HECO's vice president of power supply.

If successful, the Kahe solar project would be larger than a 12-megawatt PV facility being built by the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative in Koloa. That project, also being built by SolarCity, was billed as the state's largest solar farm when it was announced.







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toobn wrote:
Why is it that HECO throws up roadblocks to the solar industry and their customers, making it difficult to gain approval for installation, et wants to install the State's largest PV installation? FOLLOW THE MONEY!!!
on October 23,2013 | 02:33PM
Kealii wrote:
The simple answer is safety and reliability issues. It affects less than 20% of Oahu circuits but on those circuits there's an over-saturation of PV where electricity generated far exceeds demand and that extra electricity can cause dangerous voltage spikes. HECO can build their own solar facility and will probably tie it in with their Kahe plant generation to smooth out the peaks and valleys of their PV generation without it affecting other circuits.
on October 23,2013 | 04:20PM
kainalu wrote:
But the State of Hawaii was supposed to be leading the Nation into the future of non-dependency on Foreign oil. And considering that HECO is in the energy business, they should have been better prepared but still, can start up-grading the system now without all the drama. This is an important issue. Many people have PV systems, that number would have surely been greater if those considering purchasing a PV system had known that HECO was going to change the rules in the middle of the game. HECO needs to bite the bullet, and up-grade the system where it needs to be upgraded - and pronto. Perhaps HECO CEO Constance Lau can take a pay cut for one year and fund the up-grade - the lady is loaded with monopoly money - real monopoly money.
on October 23,2013 | 05:26PM
local202 wrote:
They charge 22 cents a kilowatt plus 11 cents for improvements and will continue to charge more for improvements and beyond. Customers are trying to get rid of the 11 cents for the pay raises, by installing their own PV system,
on October 23,2013 | 10:49PM
wave1 wrote:
If solar cost are 40% lower than burning oil (which is where most of HECO's electric power comes from, why does HECO not generate all their power from solar? Also funny how HECO is trying to limit homeowners doing net metering with solar, yet they turn around and are trying to build their own PV plant. What the heck?
on October 23,2013 | 02:34PM
rgy888 wrote:
when hte sun goes down, than what?
on October 23,2013 | 03:20PM
localguy wrote:
All the HECO workers get on their power generating bikes and peddle their you know what off.
on October 23,2013 | 04:26PM
shanik wrote:
itermittent power supply wave 1; they need some firm power for when the sun aint shining
on October 23,2013 | 03:45PM
thanks4reading wrote:
"Generate all power": May come down to space? Solar cells take up space. "Limit homeowners": I installed solar and had no problems from HECO. The delay was getting a building inspector out. But, the grid can only take so much additional solar energy in a specific area (15% is the number that i hear tossed about). It could be a capacity thing. thanks4posting and thanks4reading
on October 23,2013 | 04:12PM
tiwtsfm wrote:
Do I have this right? HECO will not allow people who have already installed solar panels to hook up to the grid, but they are going to build a solar Plant! I sure hope that all of those people with panels installed but cannot use them get a total credit on their electric bills.
on October 23,2013 | 02:46PM
rgy888 wrote:
I think it's because the Solar farm will be next to the generation plant and doesn't need to go through the existing undersize cables. The Solar farm will feed directly into the power plant.
on October 23,2013 | 03:23PM
Kealii wrote:
Alright, let's not exaggerate here. There are less than 10% of the solar rooftop applications received waiting to be approved. And it sucks to be them, stuck in this solar limbo through NO FAULT of their own! And you can blame HECO (and you will) for their incompetence and lack of planning. But to say they're not allowing anyone to hook up their solar panels to the grid is doing a disservice to other potential customers and PV companies who need the business. Why are you trying to scare new customers away by spreading misinformation?
on October 23,2013 | 04:00PM
hon2255 wrote:
Hey Heco, You Idiots, the people on Oahu need you to do a study on the effects of putting all those PV panels out there, we will study it ,and let you know if you can do it, give us about 6 months !!! Plus you giving the job to a mainland firm Solar City ,that does leasing, why dont you buy the panels and pass on the savings to the residents on Oahu? You guys are too much!!!
on October 23,2013 | 03:03PM
Uncleart66 wrote:
Heco is evil. Put all the local PV guys out of business and bring in the mainlanders. Lie and tell you they well make it easy to install then....say you cannot do it. Where is the hands on MAYOR? Where is the Governor ? Get mad Hawaii ! Water and sewer has doubled.....Get mad!!
on October 23,2013 | 03:19PM
titasmom wrote:
But of course...now they want customers to buy their PV electricity and not have more homeowners make their own. Bigger paycheck for their CEO- for sure she will break $7 million in salary this year! Guess any new homeowners wanting PV will be told "NO" now because the grid/circuits are full - really full now that HECO will need space for their PV system. Aaarrrgggghh!
on October 23,2013 | 03:30PM
kailua wrote:
WOW! HECO building it's own plant and it will cost 14.5 cents/kWh. When others build it and sell power to HECO, it cost 15.9 cents/kWh. WTF! Now we see what the true cost of PV is and how much extra money the PV developers are making.
on October 23,2013 | 03:44PM
lopelani wrote:
So what it saves on reduced fuel costs. The charge per kw is not going to change. They will still charge us the same cost per kw. The ratepayer will get a reduced fuel surcharge cost. That is a manini part of your electric bill. HECo is just throwing up a smokescreen to make it look like they are the good guys. They will stop everone else from putting in pv's because of over saturation, then they go in and put in the largest pv array on Oahu. Don't believe in HECo trying to make you think they are trying to save the ratepayer some money. They are trying to recover lost revenue from all the installed PV systems.....
on October 23,2013 | 03:45PM
Bumby wrote:
Is that why HECO is having more commercials now?
on October 23,2013 | 08:02PM
Denisemw wrote:
Hard to switch from thinking like a public utility where the profit is guaranteed to quasi private agency, the delay in realizing they should have been doing themselves what all the FIT providers were already doing. will get a lot of people burnt badly in the process. Pretty sure that connectivity study will get the fast track. What a mess.!!
on October 23,2013 | 03:49PM
iwanaknow wrote:
There must be a pony somewhere in all this gaga?
on October 23,2013 | 04:05PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Yes. The next thing you hear is that the energy from this plant will power the Train to Nowhere...it runs on pure sunshine!
on October 23,2013 | 04:39PM
MakaniKai wrote:
Imua Rail tutu predicated that in the commercial (remembah those?) She said “The electricity needed for rail can come from our trade winds and sunshine; it cleaner and cheaper power too.” Da kitty is right this will be for da choo choo.
on October 23,2013 | 04:53PM
MakaniKai wrote:
Imua Rail tutu predicated that in the commercial (remembah those?) She said “The electricity needed for rail can come from our trade winds and sunshine; it cleaner and cheaper power too.” Da kitty is right this will be for da choo choo.
on October 23,2013 | 04:58PM
Dtab wrote:
TOTALLY EVIL COMPANY!!!!
on October 23,2013 | 04:10PM
localguy wrote:
I would love to see how HECO will spin this project after all their whining about individual rate payers installing solar. So what is HECO's plan when the 15MW power plant suddenly gets covered by clouds? HECO generators suddenly go from idle to Warp Speed to make up for the sudden power drop. It appears to me HECO is just trying another way to stick it to rate payers. After all their years of lies, their clueless CEO, we are suddenly supposed to believe them? Lower rates for everyone? Really? Let their CEO sign a document guaranteeing lower energy rates. If this doesn't happen we activate the "Claw Back" portion of the agreement, giving back the majority of their ill gotten gain.
on October 23,2013 | 04:26PM
harley1 wrote:
you have no clue on the operational characteristics of power plants. I don't even know why I bother to refute your naivety. Generators run at constant speed on line to maintain the 60 Hz frequency and keep all those solar panels in sync as well. Without conventional generators, grid connected PV systems are just so much shiny glass on your roof. the generators vary their output continuously to keep the grid stable. Think of your car on cruise control at 60 mph. Go up a hill, engine speeds up, speed stays the same. Level out, engine speed drops to maintain speed. Same principle, much simplified.
on October 23,2013 | 08:36PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Step 1: charge all rate payers for the cost of the new facility

Step 2: promise future savings that somehow never materialize

Step 3; more dividends to the fat cats

New HECO logo: We Love Solar...when we get to charge you for it.


on October 23,2013 | 04:28PM
RCHamakua wrote:
HECO has figured out another way to milk a few more bucks from us each month. We have to separate the generation of electricity from the delivery of electricity because as long as HECO does both we are royally screwed. There is absolutely no competition in the model, and that is why HECO nows wants to get into solar, to totally shut off individuals from taking money out of their deep pockets. Where is our congressional team, where is our governor, where is our legislature, where is Donna Kim and her investigative committee?
on October 23,2013 | 04:43PM
MakaniKai wrote:
Cricket, cricket............don't expect any action from Mazie et.al. Mini Me or da Ledge.
on October 23,2013 | 05:01PM
oahuresident wrote:
This has to be better than burning oil at the plant. The benefits of solar generation directly tied to Kahe are obvious. I'm experiencing the problems of installing home PV myself, but clearly can see that installing at the plant is much better.
on October 23,2013 | 06:39PM
kmksmith wrote:
The HEI business model is to sell you electricity through their distribution system. There is no incentive for them to allow you to generate power that feeds into the grid (net metering). If you generate electricity through solar, you reduce their revenue and do not contribute to the costs of maintaining the grid. If they build their own PV plant, they can generate low cost electricity and then sell I to you at a higher rate. Executive compensation (proxy statement available online) is largely based on net income, management of operating expenses, and meeting stockholder goals. It's a perfect storm. Unless you jumped on the bandwagon early and caught them by surprise you ain't getting solar. The lofty Hawaii renewable energy goal does not involve your roof, it's having mainland companies enter into PPA's and then selling it to you at a profit. You are powerless to stop it.
on October 23,2013 | 06:55PM
Bumby wrote:
Bottom line, by building 3 times the size of whatever they have discussed in this article would that not bring rates down even further? Come on government leaders get this done and help save money for all us folks in Hawaii. Profit can still be generated and more money can be spent elsewhere in our economy. I believe that solar in Hawaii can generate 80 to 90 percent of our electricity. Politicians and big business or should it be politicians and the everyday average citizen or the less fortunate? Time has come for all people to have government work for the majority and not big business and special interest.
on October 23,2013 | 07:58PM
harley1 wrote:
what happens when the sun sets? Whose going to make up the 90% formerly supplied by solar, per your brash statement of no fact.
on October 23,2013 | 08:39PM
sailfish1 wrote:
HECO says "22.7 cents a kilowatt hour it costs to produce electricity from oil". If that's the case why do they charge residences over 35 cents per kwh? I thought they are only allowed to take 10% profit?
on October 23,2013 | 09:45PM
rayhawaii wrote:
HECO should give Waianae residents free solar panels with the excess going back to the grid feeding the rest of the island. 99.5% sunshine all year round.
on October 23,2013 | 11:34PM
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