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HECO considers switch to liquefied natural gas

    The equipment being installed by HECO is a step toward grid modernization that will help address some of the issues preventing the utility from accommodating greater amounts of renewable energy on its grid

HILO » Hawaiian Electric Co. is considering using liquefied natural gas to generate power, a switch the utility says would mean cleaner and less expensive fuel.

The utility has issued a request for proposals for the supply and delivery of as much as 800,000 tons of LNG annually, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

LNG would be used to offset the use of oil at power plants on the Big Island, Maui, Oahu, Lanai and Molokai.

According to the request for proposals, fuel costs account for 70 percent of electric rates on the islands.

"Hawaiian Electric remains fully committed to meeting and exceeding its renewable portfolio standards," the document states. "LNG is to be utilized to displace more costly and less environmentally-friendly oil products . . . and is not intended to displace renewable energy."

Deadlines for RFP submissions are May 16 for LNG supply and May 23 for LNG logistics services.

The utility is aiming to submit a proposed contract by August to the state Public Utilities Commission.

According to Hawaiian Electric, development, permitting and implementation of a bulk import and regasification terminal could take as much as eight years to complete. The utility anticipates such an infrastructure could begin service between 2020 and 2022.

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