Tuesday, October 25, 2011
HECO releases confidential information
By Henry Curtis
On January 6, 2011 HECO asked the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to approve the HECO- Aina Koa Pono (AKP) biofuel contract, noting that HECO and HELCO ratepayers would pay AKP a subsidy of 0.31 cents/kWh for 20 years, but said that HECO’s and HELCO’s anticipated future sales were confidential and therefore the total subsidy was also confidential.
On January 27, 2011 HECO’s Attorney Rush Moore LLP, informed the PUC that HECO “believe that they will suffer cognizable harm if” the pricing information was disclosed.
Last week HECO released a Draft Request For Proposal for 200 MW of renewable energy for O`ahu. Suddenly the confidential information was no longer confidential. HECO published their anticipated sales.
The AKP contract start date could be as early as 2013.
HECO estimates sales of 7,681 GWH in 2015. Thus HECO estimates that HECO ratepayers would pay AKP a subsidy of $23.81M in 2015 and would continue to subsidize AKP for 20 years. HELCO ratepayers would also pay a subsidy. The PUC noted that the subsidy would be above $100M over the 20 year contract.
The PUC’s decision dated September 29, 2011 stated “that the contract price for the AKP-produced biofuel is excessive, not cost-effective, and thus, is unreasonable and inconsistent with the public interest” but noted that “the Consumer Advocate states that it does not object to the Commission's approval of HELCO's Supply Contract with AKP.”
The Consumer Advocate is supposed to represent consumers in regulatory proceedings before the PUC but has no mechanism for gauging public sentiment and never advocates for participation of community groups in PUC actions.
HECO asked for a month delay in the ruling while they consider filing a motion for reconsideration.
On October 25, 2011 the Honolulu Star Bulletin printed a column by Jay Fidell: “Tech View: Rejection of biofuel plan is a huge setback for isles.” Jay wrote that the AKP contract is “a dream deal” and that “local biofuel is the latest target in the war against renewables.”
Those with a strong opinion for or against the PUC ruling can email their thoughts to the PUC at "Hawaii Public Utilities Commission" Hawaii.PUC@hawaii.gov