“There is a growing recognition of the cumulative burden of infrastructure – whether from landfills, industrial parks, power plants or other facilities – placed on certain Oahu neighborhoods, primarily because zoning and other restrictions leave no alternatives for people who live in those areas,” said Robbie Alm, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for public affairs.
“We must be sensitive to this and as a result, we have been meeting with West Oahu and Waianae Coast community leaders to get their ideas on reasonable steps to address community concerns regarding the siting of another power plant on their side of the island. These steps have come to be known as ‘give-backs.’”
In addition, the company pledged that on its own it would:
This milestone in community give-backs could not have been reached without the effective leadership and involvement of Mayor Mufi Hannemann. While recognizing the need for a steady supply of electrical power to help drive the growth of West and Central Oahu and beyond, the Mayor was also very insistent in having affected communities benefit from this project, specifically residents from Kapolei to Waianae.
He had his representative, former Councilmember John DeSoto, actively involved in the community-based discussions and planning. The Mayor expressed his appreciation to all the community members who were involved in this process and Hawaiian Electric for their role in developing this "win-win" situation.
The new combustion turbine generating unit – the first power plant on Oahu in 17 years by the time of its planned operation in 2009 – is proposed to be located at Campbell Industrial Park, next to existing power plants operated by independent producers – AES, Kalaeloa, and H-Power (waste-to-energy plant). An additional 138 kV transmission line about two miles long, within and adjacent to Campbell Industrial Park, will also be needed to more reliably transmit power from the new and existing units within the industrial park to the grid. Preliminary costs for the new unit and transmission line, as well as related substation improvements, are estimated at $130 million.
Plans are for the unit to burn naphtha, a much cleaner fuel than the low sulfur residual fuel oil currently used in most of Hawaiian Electric’s power plants. The unit will also be “fuel-flexible,” that is, able to burn ethanol or other environmentally friendly biofuels, or hydrogen, when they are commercially available.
“We consider this a transitional unit, capable of burning both fuels of the past and fuels of the future. We have received assurances from potential suppliers that the type of generating unit we are looking to purchase has already used biofuels and hydrogen as fuel sources,” said Alm. “Thus when supply is available, we would welcome the conversion of the unit away from the use of fossil fuels.”
Plans are for the combustion turbine to be run primarily as a “peaking” unit, which means it would operate mainly between 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays to meet peak evening demand for electricity.
Hawaiian Electric is now preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed unit. The air permit application was submitted to the State of Hawaii Department of Health in the fall of 2003 and is currently under review.
Alm noted that with Oahu’s growing economy and increasing electricity use, the island’s power generation reserves continue to decrease.
“It’s essential to have an adequate level of reserves on an island power grid, because if we lose generation for any reason, we only have those reserves available,” said Alm. “Unlike the mainland, we’re not interconnected to other power sources. We are a stand-alone utility and we cannot count on anyone but ourselves for the power our customers need.”
In the meantime, until the new unit can be built, the company expects to have enough power to meet the island’s demand for electric service under normal conditions. It noted, however, that with existing units running harder to meet higher demand or with potentially higher than forecasted peak demand due to unusually hot weather or other causes, the possibility of generation-related outages is greater.
To keep generation reserves up and to support the company’s goal of decreasing the growth of Hawaii’s use of imported oil, Hawaiian Electric has also embarked on an aggressive program to promote other energy solutions, including: