HECO pushes biomass power

By Jerry W. Kram
Hawaiian Electric Co. is moving ahead with its proposal to supply renewable energy to Oahu's power grid. The company issued a request for proposals (RFP) in June for bidders to submit plans for large projects or projects with incremental increases in additional capacity.

The RFP is the first time the utility has used a bidding process, said Peter Rosegg, HECO's director of communications. "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.

One of Oahu's challenges in delivering renewable power will be designing systems to account for the nature of intermittent resources. 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 and solar power, hydropower, geothermal power, and hydrogen from renewables. "We are open to as many different applications of technologies as possible," Rosegg said.

The additional renewable energy will complement existing renewable energy projects, including a waste-to-energy plant owned by H-Power that produces 46 megawatts of power. H-Power is building a 110-megawatt, simple-cycle peaking unit consisting of one combustion turbine generator and auxiliary systems at HECO's Barbers Point Tank Farm in the Campbell Industrial Park. Groundbreaking for the unit is expected in 2008 with operations starting by mid-2009. After testing and certification, the unit will be fueled 100 percent by biodiesel provided by Imperium Services LLC, a subsidiary of Imperium Renewables Inc. Aquatech International Corp. will provide water treatment for the power plant. Aquatech provides equipment for water and wastewater treatment, desalination, water reuse, and zero-liquid discharge systems. The power plant will use three different feed waters, namely saline groundwater, tertiary-treated gray water and potable city water with high silica.