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Richard, how do the rubbah slippah folks feel about the PUC approving Hu Honua? From Civil Beat: “HELCO will purchase the energy at an average cost of 25 cents per kilowatt-hour over the course of the 20-year contract. The rate is higher than the current cost of producing electricity from oil.” http://www.civilbeat.com/articles/2013/12/26/20749-hawaii-regulators-approve-big-island-biomass-plant/


The 25 cents per Kilowatt hour charge is higher than we would have liked.
If we add approximately 20 cents per kWh to run the grid, That will result in a rate close to 45 cents kWH. That is a little more than we pay now. Hu Honua is located on the slopes of Mauna Kea a dormant volcano, not on the slopes of either Kilauea or Mauna Loa, which are both active. This gives us some protection from lava over running this plant. And, It is pretty certain that electricity rates will rise higher than 45 cents kWh in 20 years. All in all, I think the good outweighs the bad.

Thanks Richard -- just a follow-up. Given that HELCO just rejected the geothermal bids because they were too expensive (see below article), can you say anything about what were the bids? By your above logic (and the PUC's), it appears that the geothermal bids were more expensive than Hu Honua's of 25 cents/kWh. Is that right?

“HELCO: Bids don’t meet requirements for geothermal contract” (December 24, 2013) http://hawaiitribune-herald.com/news/local-news/helco-bids-don-t-meet-requirements-geothermal-contract


In general. HELCO has an idea of the costs of the particular type of project i.e. geothermal, wind, etc. So HELCOs cost expectation is more related to the type of the project. I would not assume that the cost of the RFP responses exceeded the Hu Honua cost. I would be greatly surprised if any of the geothermal bids were in the 25 cents kWh range.

Thanks again Richard ... but if firm electricity generation is fungible, why would HELCO favor biomass over cheaper geothermal? Also given that #1 State energy priority should be the *indigenous* production of jet fuel to insulate Hawaii's bread-and-butter tourist industry from oil price shocks -- and that biomass is precious given Hawaii's limited agriculture land -- shouldn't biomass be used to produce jet fuel (e.g., Hawaii BioEnergy for Alaska Air) instead of HELCO electricity? Seems to me that both for HELCO ratepayers & Hawaii energy security the PUC messed up on its Hu Honua decision. Anyway, just my two cents. Thanks for responding!


The whole world is seeking an answer for liquid transportation fuel-- especially jet fuel.

Whoever wrote that article for Citybeat is wrong. Hu Honua at 25 cents per kw-hr is still much less than the existing overall rate of 42 cents per kw-hr from burning oil to generate electricity. The Hu Honua plant has a fraction of the emissions also. Hu Honua supplements the power nodes north of Hilo. This will allow the Hilo oil burning electric plant to phase out and be shut down in a couple years, reducing oil dependency and reducing the sulfur emissions that come from burning oil.

Punated: From HELCO testimony [http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2013/testimony/Info_Testimony_CPN-ENE_01-29-13.pdf, Acrobat p. 42], HELCO's marginal cost of oil generation looks to be around 18 cents/kWh ... so Civil Beat might be right.

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