• The Public Utilities Commission in Hawaii is pondering over HECO’s proposal to launch tenders for up to 900 MW renewable energy
  • It comprises 594 MW of solar for O‘ahu, 135 MW for Maui and 32 MW to 203 MW for Hawai‘I islands
  • This will be in preparation for coal-and oil-fired power plants about to close down on these islands
  • The bidding round open post green signal from the commission will also be open to standalone storage and grid services to ensure reliability of the variable generation output

The Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO) plan to competitively procure 900 MW of new renewable energy out of which at least 66% will come from solar. It has submitted the procurement plan to the state Public Utilities Commission and expects it to be approved by this summer. Afterwards it will launch a formal bidding process open to both local and international companies.

HECO says this will be among the largest single procurement efforts undertaken by a US utility.

Through some 900 MW of new renewables, HECO hopes to generate close to 2 million MWh of clean power annually. For the island of O‘ahu alone it sees contracting 594 MW of solar, 135 MW for Maui and 32 MW to 203 MW for Hawai‘i island, depending on whether other renewable energy projects become available. Proposals for Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i will be sought later this summer, it said.

The first of these projects should be online in 2022. The O‘ahu solar plans are being put in place to replace the 180 MW coal-fired AES Hawai‘I plant in Campbell Industrial Park that’s due for a shutdown by September 2022. The plant currently meets 16% of peak demand on the island where it is the largest single generator. Even in Maui, the oldest oil-fired Kahului Power Plant is retiring by the end of 2024. For Hawai‘i Island, additional renewable generation is sought even assuming the Puna Geothermal Venture plant returns to service and the Hū Honua biomass plant comes online as planned.

Additionally, the second phase of HECO’s solicitation, when launched, will be open to standalone storage and grid services to ensure reliability of the variable generation output. “We’ve attempted to develop a competitive bidding plan that addresses concerns of all stakeholders while maintaining a fair process to reach our aggressive clean energy goals,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for business development and strategic planning.

In April 2019, HECO revealed its Renewables Procurement Phase 2 plan calling for solar and storage aiming to procure 135 MW of new solar capacity with 1,378 MWh of storage by 2022 (see HECO To Produce 135 MW More Solar & Storage).

In March 2019, HECO secured approval from the commission for 247 MW from 6 solar power plants with storage as against the original proposal of 7 projects with 262 MW and 1,048 MWh of energy storage (see Hawaii’s PV+Storage Grid Modernization Plan Cleared).