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HELCO Seeks PUC Approval for Geothermal Proposals

Posted January 25, 2013, 05:04 PM HST Updated January 28, 2013, 10:17 AM HST
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The Puna Geothermal Venture plant located in Pohoiki in lower Puna. Photo courtesy of PGV.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. today filed its proposed final request for proposals for an expansion of geothermal energy of up to 50 megawatts.

With the move the Big Island utility is seeking approval from the Public Utilities Commission to solicit bidders for developers of additional geothermal resources.

A draft geothermal RFP was issued in November.

Once HELCO gets PUC approval it will issue the RFP, and prospective bidders will have 60 days to respond, the company said in a statement issued today. HELCO expects to make a selection within 120 days of that deadline.

“This is a significant next step toward adding more renewable energy and lowering costs for our customers,” said Jay Ignacio, Hawaii Electric Light Company president. “As an important part of the process, we must ensure any project thoroughly addresses environmental and cultural concerns from our community.”

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The PUC has hired the energy-consulting firm Boston Pacific Company to monitor the process and advise the commission.

HELCO currently has a contract with Puna Geothermal Venture for 38 megawatts of power produced at PGV’s plant in Pohoiki.

While there are potential geothermal resources on Mauna Loa and Hualalai as well as on Kilauea’s east rift where PGV is located, the possible location for any future geothermal wells will not be known until the bids are made.

Ormat, the company that owns PGV, is expected to be among the bidders for additional geothermal power. The Israel-based company has also indicated an interest in developing geothermal resources on Maui.

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