Thursday, January 9, 2014

Secret Inter-Island Cable Meeting held at the Capitol

By Henry Curtis

On Thursday January 9, 2014 the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) held a “Renewable Portfolio Standards Study Briefing” for stakeholders at the Hawaii State Capitol, Room 329.

Related Article: Secret Meetings. Part 2: Excluded Stakeholders

The meeting was not announced on the traditional web sites (e-Gov, Hawaii State Legislature, PUC, PUC Calendar).

The PUC and GE presented the results assembled over the past six months by a team including representatives of the PUC, HECO, General Electric and the University of Hawaii’s Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI).

The team members were HNEI (Rick Rocheleau, John Cole), HECO/MECO (Ron Bushner, Matt McNeff), PUC (Jay Griffin, Dave parsons) and GE (Herjeet Johal, Derek Stenclik, Gene Hinkle, Dick Piwko, and Gary Jordan).

The team developed 18 scenarios, 9 focusing on Oahu and Maui meeting RPS goals through on-island renewable resources and 9 involving the O`ahu-Lana`i cable, or the O`ahu-Maui cable or both. (Download the PUC Report)

The team wanted a balance approach so they restricted the options to centralized wind, centralized solar and distributed solar.

Excluded from their balanced approach were biomass, biofuel, wave energy, ocean-based wind energy, geothermal and batteries.

GE presented a list which listed the chronology of renewable energy projects. The list identified the order in which renewable energy projects would be curtailed. Fourth on the ten projects list was Lanai Wind.

The team used prices found in the HECO Companies Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) report. Thus O`ahu renewable resources were priced based on historic higher prices rather than the lower prices found in HECO’s waiver applications currently being considered by the PUC.

GE is the “independent consultant “associated with the project. Over the past six years they have written a series of reports for Hawaii energy stakeholders. They are a manufacturer of wind turbines. They asserted “we’re working closely with the utilities.”

About 50 people attended the briefing. This included all three PUC Commissioners, several PUC staff members, a half dozen people from HECO, staff members from DBEDT and the Division of Consumer Advocacy, General Electric, University of Hawaii’s Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), several Legislators and legislative aides and five members of the public who stumbled upon the meeting.

I tape the nearly three hour meeting and will be writing a series of articles about it.

In short, the report found the cheapest and most effective solutions occur with inter-island connectivity and the future replacement of diesel with liquefied natural gas (LNG).

In summary the PUC noted that this “study does not tie to any specific docket” but rather “cuts across most key issues.”

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