HECO Hopes Solar Will Lower Customer Bills

Hawaiian Electric Co. hopes to move forward on a 15-megawatt solar farm on undeveloped land at the Kahe Generating Station on Oahu if it can get a waiver from state regulators from the competitive bidding process.

Projects larger than 5 mw are required to be competitively bid. 

The price of the solar energy — 14.5 cents per kilowatt-hour — falls significantly below electricity rates. The current cost of using oil to produce power is currently estimated at 22.7 cents per kilowatt hour, according to HECO.

The electric utility owns the land, which helps make the solar energy cheaper for customers, said HECO spokesman, Darren Pai. 

SolarCity would build the 50-acre project, which could be online by the end of 2015, pending regulatory and environmental approvals.

"This project is Hawaiian Electric’s latest effort to lower bills for customers, improve service, and develop more low-cost clean energy resources," according to a HECO press release issued Wednesday. 

Earlier this year, HECO submitted four other solar projects and a wind project to the Public Utilities Commission, also seeking a waiver from the competitive bidding process. The projects represent five of 25 proposals submitted to HECO after it issued a request for low-cost renewable energy. 

The earlier projects, which total 64 megawatts, have an average consumer price tag of 15.9 cents per kilowatt hour. The PUC has yet to rule on HECO’s request for a waiver for these projects. 

HECO says that it can more quickly to bring low cost, renewable energy to consumers by circumventing the competitive bidding process.

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Photo: DBEDT

Sophie Cocke

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