DBEDT recently updated their "Top 40" list of renewable energy projects that are currently underway or online. The largest is Kawailoa Wind, a 69 MW wind farm on the North Shore of O‘ahu that will produce enough energy to power 14,500 homes. On the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative website, you can also find Hawai‘i renewable energy projects mapped by island.
The dawn of 2011 saw a burst of notable activity on Hawaii’s energy radar:
On January 6, PBN and Civilbeat reported that a group called Kuokoa, Inc. was planning a buyout of Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI), the holding company for HECO, MECO, and HELCO (and American Savings Bank). Seems like a long shot, analysts are saying. The proposal provokes a closer look at whether and/or how privatizing the utility would be in the public’s best interest. A separate question is whether this company has the capital-raising ability to pull it off—HEI’s current market value is $2.25 billion. The Star-Advertiser explores that here, and also investigates the credibility of Kuokoa’s founder here.
(The Kuokoa website offers no further information, save an elusive marketing pitch that sounds like they’re embarking on a mission to Mars.)
Also on January 6, HECO announced a deal to buy 300 million gallons of liquid biofuels over the next 20 years from Big Island company Aina Koa Pono, re-raising the question of what role biofuels will play in Hawaii’s clean energy future. Here are links to SA story and Civilbeat story. Is this a mismatch? Shouldn't locally produced biofuels be directed toward Hawaii's transportation sector, which accounts for over two-thirds of our oil dependency? Unlike stationary power plants, the transportation sector has few substitutes for liquid fuels. HECO can look to numerous other clean, renewable, indigenous resources—solar, wind, geothermal, etc—to generate electricity. It's admirable that HECO is helping to capitalize and move the biofuel market, but burning liquid biofuels in power plants instead of in vehicles is not a long-term solution for Hawaii. Biofuels and sustainable transportation are two areas we'll be discussing much more.
Finally, we’re also following developments concerning the wind farm project on Lanai. On January 7, HECO and Castle & Cooke announced an agreement setting the rates for electricity that would be generated by either a 200 MW wind farm or a 400 MW wind farm that Castle & Cooke wants to build on Lanai. They also announced a community benefits package they consider to be just compensation to the Lanai community for the development of a large-scale wind farm. Story is covered here, here, and here. On January 11, the Senate held a hearing to discuss the project. Civilbeat offers coverage and a copy of the testimony submitted here.