HAWAII ISLAND: The Hawaii Electric Light Company is officially looking to add up to 50 megawatts (MW) of geothermal power, now that a draft Geothermal Request for Proposals has been filed with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.

The move to bring more geothermal energy to the island comes after a HELCO Request for Information in June 2011, a formal attempt to determine the best way to pursue geothermal development on Hawaii Island. The company says it received 20 responses to that request.

According to a media release issued on Friday, the price of the next 50 MW of geothermal will not be tied to the cost of oil in order to “help lower electricity costs for customers.” HELCO says the added power “must also blend operationally with other resources, including renewable energy from wind, solar, biomass and hydro.” The release goes on to say:

The RFP is pursuing geothermal technologies that provide renewable dispatchable energy and firm capacity, which means that the utility would be able to schedule and control output from the geothermal plant. This will also provide firm back up for other renewable resources such as wind or solar to help maintain reliable service for Hawaii Island customers.

In the draft RFP, HELCO stipulates that bidders “must provide a preliminary environmental assessment of the Site, which includes the identification and analysis of potential short and long term impacts associated with the Project – including direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts associated with construction, operation, and maintenance.”

Bidders must also “identify a detailed plan for community outreach and communications with respect to the proposed Facility, which must include the Bidder’s plan for working with the community during exploration, development, and construction to provide information and to address community issues.”

The final draft of this Geothermal Request for Proposals is planned to be issued on January 2013. According to the HELCO website, the utility hopes to submit executed Power Purchase Agreement that result from this RFP process for PUC approval in March or April of 2014. The image above and to the right is from the draft RFP, showing a flowchart of the bidding process.

Additional information may be found at www.helcohi.com under the Competitive Bidding section of the company’s website.

The Draft RFP can be downloaded here: PDF file

Jay Ignacio, Hawaii Electric Light Company president
via media release

“This project combines our efforts to increase renewable resources on our island with a commitment to reduce costs for our customers. We look forward to working with developers while ensuring our communities have a voice in energy planning for our island.”