First Wind Hawaii, the principal partner of Maui’s Kaheawa Wind Farm, has apparently been frozen out of the no-bid project called “Big Wind” that is a centerpiece of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative.
First Wind officials said they were not able to find a site to locate a proposed 200-megawatt wind farm on Molokai, because the island’s major landowner, Molokai Ranch, refused to negotiate with them. Last month, the Public Utilities Commission rejected First Wind’s request for more time to identify a location for the project, ruling that First Wind was not a party to the 2008 agreement that evaded the usual competitive bidding process.
“We’re disappointed, but it was not unexpected,” said John Lamontagne, director of corporate com-munications for First Wind. “We appreciate the PUC’s consideration.”
First Wind Chief Executive Officer Paul Gaynor warned the PUC in a letter in March that if plans for a Molokai wind farm falter, “the state would have put itself in a situation where there is a single point of failure – the Lanai wind farm.”
The no-bid project stems from an earlier request by Hawaiian Electric Co. for companies to submit proposals for the development of 100 megawatts of renewable energy on Oahu.
The Public Utilities Commission has rejected a request by First Wind LLC for more time to submit a document outlining its plans for a proposed wind energy project on Molokai.
First Wind had sought an eight-month extension past a March 18 deadline to file a “term sheet” that would have served as a precursor to an potential agreement with Hawaiian Electric Co., to buy power from the proposed 200-megawatt project. However, First Wind missed the deadline because it was not able to reach agreement with land owner Molokai Ranch on a potential site for the wind turbine project.
In a letter dated April 29 the PUC told First Wind that the wind energy company was not authorized to request an extension because it was not an official party in the proceedings. The PUC said such an extension request would have to be filed by HECO, which is a party in the case. However, HECO previously said it would not file for an extension on First Wind’s behalf.
After First Wind missed the March 18 deadline Molokai Ranch announced that it had begun talks with a new developer, Pattern Energy Group, on building the Molokai wind energy project.
With the launch of Oahu’s first commercially viable wind farm behind them, proponents of wind power will now try to replicate the feat on Lanai and Molokai, where larger-scale wind projects face far greater community opposition.
The first trickle of wind-generated electricity began flowing to the Hawaiian Electric Co. grid last week from 12 wind turbines at a 30-megawatt facility in Kahuku developed by Boston-based First Wind LLC. Gov. Neil Abercrombie, the First Wind CEO, the head of the Public Utilities Commission, Kahuku community leaders and even musician Jack Johnson gathered under a tent in the wind-swept foothills of the Koolau Mountains to celebrate the occasion.
Although the wind farm will provide just a small fraction of Oahu’s peak electricity demand, Abercrombie and others heralded the Kahuku project as an important step in Hawaii’s pursuit of energy independence.
To make wind a much bigger part of the electric grid in Hawaii, state officials and HECO are leading an effort to develop larger wind farms on Lanai and Molokai that would send electricity to Oahu via undersea cables. The proposal for 400 megawatts of generating capacity split between Lanai and Molokai, combined with wind and solar energy generated on Oahu could provide 25 percent of the island’s power needs
Hawaiian Electric Co. is seeking a company to supply locally-produced biodiesel to power its recently completed 110-megawatt generating station in Campbell Industrial Park.
The request for proposals state’s HECO’s preference for locally-produced biodiesel, but if it isn’t available in sufficient quantities the utility said it would accept biodiesel produced on the Mainland or a mix of the two.
The contract is for three to seven million gallons of biodiesel a year over a three-year period. The contract will replace a two-year deal with an Iowa-based supplier of biodiesel made from waste animal fat. That contract that expires in July 2012.
The Campbell plant is the largest commercial power plant in the world powered exclusively by biodiesel, according to HECO.
included in the RFP is a request to supply 250,000 additional gallons per year for the 8-megawatt Honolulu International Airport Emergency Power Facility which is projected to be in service in summer of 2012.
Mahalo for coverage of the palm oil importation (The Maui News, Nov. 11) that seems to remain an issue despite all the talk about development of local, sustainable biofuel crops. Some corrections to the article are in order.
The inaccuracies are not The Maui News’ fault, assuming Hawaiian Electric Co.’s Pete Rosegg was quoted correctly. Pete stated that Pacific Biodiesel “withdrew their supply to (Maui Electric Co.),” which is absolutely not true. It’s unfortunate that the corporate communications director did not check his facts as he would have found out that Pacific Biodiesel continues to supply the contracted amount of fuel to MECO and even extended our contract from the last time it ended.
He also said he was waiting for Pacific Biodiesel to “respond to questions about their proposal.” We have answered all their questions and have been waiting for weeks for them to reply to us with a meeting date to discuss our concerns about their fuel spec, which is not an existing ASTM fuel specification.
Saying something is true and being quoted in the newspaper does not make it so, and stating you want to purchase biodiesel when you have requested fuel with different specifications implies the opposite.
Local production is the key to gradually moving the state away from imported fuel
The state’s quest for energy independence took a step forward with Hawaiian Electric Co. receiving bids from 10 companies seeking to supply the utility with biofuel produced locally to burn in its power plants.
There are a number of potential biofuel feedstocks that can be produced in Hawaii, including:
» Sugar cane
» Invasive trees
» Waste products
HECO said it would begin buying the renewable fuel over the next five years, starting with small amounts and gradually expanding its intake as the fledgling biofuel industry matures in Hawaii.
"We are pleased with the strong response," said HECO spokesman Peter Rosegg.
The deadline for companies to submit bids was Friday, and HECO is now evaluating the proposals. The names of the companies will not be made public until the winning bid or bids are announced.
Potential exists to turn state’s renewable-energy needs into a cash crop
Hawaiian Electric Co.’s search for long-term suppliers of biofuels derived from local feedstocks stands to ignite a new form of agriculture in Hawaii.
But major challenges lie ahead for both the utility and potential producers.
Acres of fallow pineapple and sugar fields across the state potentially could be converted to high-oil-yielding plants such as jatropha, soybean and microalgae.
The utility says it is interested in buying enough biofuels to run its power plants on Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and the Big Island.
Clean-burning biofuels are attractive to HECO because they can be used in its existing generators, which currently run on liquid fossil fuels including bunker oil and diesel.
“We’ve talked and talked about biodiesel in Hawaii, and now we can guarantee that we’ll purchase their products down the road, so we’re looking for people to make proposals,” said HECO spokesman Peter Rosegg. “If we’re going to get to the state’s mandate of 40 percent renewables by 2030, which is just 20 years away, a chunk of that will have to come from biofuels. The best situation would be one where the feedstocks are grown here.”