STORY SUMMARY »
The state's predominant utility has won approval to build Hawaii's first
commercial biofuel plant.
It is the first substantial new power generator that Hawaiian Electric
Co. has added in 17 years.
HECO will build the $142.3 million facility at Campbell Industrial Park
on Oahu beginning early next year, and expects to begin commercial
operation in mid-2009. It will run exclusively on fuels made from
ethanol or biodiesel.
The plant is the culmination of a five-year environmental, permitting
and engineering process that has seen HECO transition from using a mix
of more traditional fuels to a plan that includes only biodiesel or ethanol.
HECO's parent company announced the state Public Utilities Commission's
May approval of the unit yesterday in its quarterly financial filing
with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
FULL STORY »
By Jennifer Sudick / firstname.lastname@example.org
Hawaiian Electric Co. has won approval to build the state's first
commercial biofuel plant.
The Oahu plant is the culmination of a five-year environmental,
permitting and engineering process that has seen HECO change from using
a mix of more traditional fuels to a plan that includes only biodiesel
or ethanol. It will be the first substantial new power generator HECO
has added in 17 years.
Construction on the Campbell Industrial Park plant -- part of HECO's
goal of moving toward renewable energy -- will begin in early 2008. The
$142.3 million facility will run exclusively on renewable fuels made
from ethanol or biodiesel. Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc., the parent
of HECO, announced the state Public Utilities Commission's May approval
of the unit in its quarterly financial filing with the Securities and
Exchange Commission yesterday.
The plant will begin commercial operation in mid-2009, HECO spokesman
Peter Rosegg said in an interview. It will use between 5 million and 12
million gallons of fuel each year, with a capacity of up to 20 million
"We cannot continue to burn fossil fuels indefinitely, so that's the
general motivation," Rosegg said. "We have a renewable portfolio
standard that by 2020 we need to be getting 20 percent of our electric
sales from renewables."
Costs for the project would not be passed to customers until the unit is
completed and in service. HECO will then decide if it will propose a
rate increase, Rosegg said.
Catherine Awakuni, executive director of the state Division of Consumer
Advocacy, said the projected consumer impacts, including rates and
reliability, are reasonable.
"The increased reserve capacity margin will ensure that Hawaiian
Electric will have sufficient generating capability to serve all
customers during the hours of Hawaiian Electric's system peak," she said.
The 110-megawatt plant, which will have two buildings, two fuel tanks,
three water tanks and one 210-foot-high exhaust stack, will be part of
HECO's 1,700-megawatt power generation system. It is designed to run
several hours each day to help deal with peak usage, which occurs
between 5 and 9 p.m. as people return from work. Since Hawaii cannot
import its power, Rosegg said HECO tries to keep a reserve margin of 30
percent above peak capacity. Sometimes it operates with less than 20
"We don't have enough comfortable margin to deal with that peak," Rosegg
said. "If something goes wrong, then we would be forced to turn people off."
HECO put out a request for proposals from biofuel suppliers at the end
of last year, and the company will announce one supplier in a month,
Rosegg said. The PUC must then approve the decision. HECO ordered a
fuel-flexible generator from Siemens in December 2005.
"Our hope is there will be biofuels here in Hawaii that we can use at
this plant and at other plants in Hawaii," Rosegg said. "At the
beginning we will have to import biofuel for this new plant, but we hope
that in the near future we will be able to use biofuels that have been
grown and processed here in Hawaii."
Another biofuel project, the BlueEarth Maui Biodiesel LLC refinery on
Maui, is set to open in 2009. In a partnership with HECO, it would
generate 40 million gallons of biodiesel from imported vegetable oils in
its first year for Maui Electric Co. Rosegg said he hopes Maui will be
powered completely on renewable energy within six to eight years.
Check for earlier Pacific Biofuel posts: http://pacbiofuel.blogspot.com/