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MECO seeks to add 50 megawatts of firm renewable power

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   February 8th, 2011 · No Disqus Comments · Featured, Maui News

Posted by Wendy Osher

Maui Electric Company (MECO) is seeking PUC approval to begin a search for 50 megawatts of new renewable energy capacity on Maui.

Maui Electric Company offices in Kahului. Photo by Wendy Osher.

“With our partners such as HC&S, First Wind and soon Sempra Generation, Maui is in a strong renewable energy position,” said MECO President, Ed Reinhardt. “Still we need to look into the future to continue to increase Maui’s contribution to meeting Hawaii’s clean energy goals. We also need to plan for continued growth and other contingencies,” said Reinhardt.

MECO hopes to put out request for proposals within the next two months, with the first increment projected to be in service in 2015. In 2006, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission initiated a competitive bidding requirement for all new generation capacity greater than 2.7 megawatts for the island of Maui.

The island of Maui currently has 232 MW of firm generation and 30.5 MW of intermittent generation.

Maui’s current array of independent power producers includes HC&S and the Alexander & Baldwin plantation which provide 16 MW of firm power mostly from bagasse, recycled oil and some coal. An estimated 30-MW of electricity is generated by the Kaheawa Wind Farm operated by First Wind Hawaii. A 21-MW second phase is proposed with a power purchase contract currently under PUC review. Other alternative energy projects on the radar include:

  • Sempra Generation’s proposed 21-MW wind farm at Ulupalakua in East Maui.
  • Tests are underway to use more Biofuel at the Ma’alaea Power Plant.
  • A small hydro plant above Lahaina can provide up to half a megawatt of power.
  • A wave energy demonstration is planned by Australia-based Oceanlinx on Maui’s north shore.

MECO officials say the island must maintain a reserve margin large enough to deal with potential loss of generating capacity. Company officials say the additional firm renewable energy generation would also help ensure enough generation is available to meet customer needs should HC&S decide not to renew its power contract with MECO.

***(Supporting information courtesy MECO)

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