HECO issues RFP for renewable energy generation

By Susanne Retka Schill
Web exclusive posted June 27, 2008 at 1:45 p.m. CST

Hawaiian Electric Co. is seeking developers interested in supplying up to 100 megawatts of renewable energy to Oahu's power grid. The request for proposals issued June 23 allows bidders to submit plans for large projects or projects with incremental increases in additional capacity.

One of Oahu's challenges in delivering renewable power will be designing systems to account for the irregular nature of intermittent resources such as wind energy. Hawaii faces a unique set of challenges, HECO said in the RFP. "These include having no interconnections to other grids for support, little geographic diversity and a unique mix of generation resources," it stated. Technologies that are eligible to meet HECO's renewable power standard include biofuels, biomass and biogas (landfill and sewage-based digester gas), as well as wind, sun, falling water, geothermal, hydrogen from renewables, or ocean currents and waves. "We are open to as many different applications of technologies as possible," said Peter Rosegg, director of communications for the utility.

The additional renewable energy will complement existing renewable energy projects. The H-Power waste-to-energy plant currently produces 46 megawatts of power, and a new plant in the Campbell Industrial Park is expected to begin generating 110 megawatts from biodiesel in 2009. HECO is also working on a 218-kilowatt photovoltaic system.

The RFP is the first time the utility has used a bidding process, Rosegg said. "We're trying to be as transparent and open as we can be in the process," he added. As part of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission rules, HECO held a technical conference to discuss the draft RFP, while an independent observer monitored and guided the process. After input from the independent observer and interested parties, the utilities commission approved HECO's release of the RFP.

Responses to the RFP are due Sept. 25. More information is available at www.generationbidding.heco.com.