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Hawaiian Electric seeks renewable options as end nears for 2 plants

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  • CRAIG KOJIMA / 2011

    The AES Hawaii plant in Kapolei is closing by September 2022 and HEI is seeking to replace with more renewable energy projects.

Wanted: More sources of alternative energy to power Hawaii.

In an effort to prepare for the closure of two fossil-fuel plants in the state — the coal-fired AES Hawaii plant on Oahu and the oil-fired Kahului Power Plant on Maui — Hawaiian Electric Companies is seeking more renewable energy projects.

The companies, which provide power to residents on Oahu and Hawaii island and in Maui County, are seeking an array of solar, wind, storage and other projects to help generate electricity in place of the two plants.

Drafts of requests for proposals were submitted for review to the state Public Utilities Commission earlier this week, with the goal of issuing them by June. Pending approval, Hawaiian Electric expects the first projects to come online by 2022.

“This one is more open to other types of technologies,” said Hawaiian Electric Companies spokesman Peter Rosegg. “Could be just wind or just solar, or wind with storage, solar with storage, standalone storage or grid services.”

With grid services, providers offer customers incentives to shift their use of electricity during high or low demand periods.

The 180-megawatt AES Hawaii power plant at Campbell Industrial Park is currently the largest single generator on the Hawaiian Electric system, providing 16 percent of the peak demand on Oahu. It is slated to close by September 2022. On Maui, the Kahului Power Plant is expected to close by the end of 2024.

Both plants have been around for more than 20 years and have been good partners, but times have changed, according to Rosegg.

“The AES contract is expiring, and no one’s interested in renewing it,” said Rosegg. “It’s coal, dirtiest of all our power plants in the system. There’s no question we’ve known for awhile it would retire at the end of the contract. Kahului has been more flexible, but it’s an old plant. We’ve looked at closing it before. Now we’re committed to doing it.”

The companies are seeking projects that add about 160,000 megawatt hours annually on Oahu, 65,000 megawatt hours annually on Maui, and 70,000 megawatt hours annually on Hawaii island.

The PUC recently approved contracts for six additional grid-scale, solar-plus-storage projects including the three on Oahu, one on Maui, and two on Hawaii island, that will add 247 megawatts of solar energy, with almost 1 gigawatt-hour, or 1,000 megawatt-hours, of storage by the end of 2021.

The long-term prices negotiated for those projects — between 8 to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour — are significantly lower than the current cost of fossil fuel generation, which is about 15 cents per kilowatt-hour.

One of the projects, Ho‘ohana Solar 1, a 52-megawatt farm slated for Kunia, generated controversy because part of it was planned on prime agricultural land, which is not currently permitted by law.

The developers of Ho‘ohana, 174 Power Global, have since decided to reconfigure their project so it will no longer be on prime agricultural land, but are still moving forward with it, according to Rosegg.

Pending approval, the proposals will be evaluated on both price and non-price benefits, the companies said, including impacts to customers and communities.



>> AES Hawaii power plant in Oahu’s Campbell Industrial Park is expected to close by September 2022.

>> Kahului Power Plant on Maui, the island’s oldest oil-fired plant, is expected to close by end of 2024.

A draft of the requests and model agreements should be posted online by Monday at


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