Friday, March 15, 2013


What One Hand Giveth, the Other Hand Taketh Away

By Henry Curtis

Hawaiian Electric (HECO) has just posted the following notice on their web site:

Invitation for Low Cost Renewable Energy Projects on Oahu Through Request for Waiver from Competitive Bidding

Hawaiian Electric Company (Hawaiian Electric) seeks to lower the cost of electricity for its customers in the near term with qualified renewable energy projects on Oahu that can be quickly placed into service at a low cost per kilowatt-hour.  To that end, Hawaiian Electric will consider requesting a waiver from the Hawaii Public Utility Commission (PUC) Competitive Bidding Framework for projects that meet these goals.


HECO/HECO are proposing a new and improved HELCO-Aina Koa Pono (AKP) Biodiesel Contract.

In 2011 HECO/HELCO submitted a proposed contract with AKP to state regulators. The contract would have given AKP an estimated $250 million surplus over 20 years above and beyond the existing price of electricity. HECO and HELCO ratepayers would have paid for the surplus. That contract was rejected by regulators.

In 2012 HECO/HELCO submitted a revised proposed contract to regulators. The new price and the surplus that would be given to AKP is allegedly lower but  is permanently secret.

The current 2013 Hawaii Legislature introduced HB 1405 which would have require disclosure of prices after the Public Utilities Commission approves any contract.

HECO testified: "Hawaiian Electric appreciates the intent of H.B. 1405, but offers that this bill is unnecessary."

The bill has been gutted.

If it gutted version passes and the AKP contract is approved, then the surplus  that AKP gets from ratepayers will be confidential.


Just talked to a solar PV installer who told me 9 out of 10 projects are being rejected by MECO because they say they have too much renewable energy. Seems like they love the big expensive renewable projects where they can pass the expense on to the ratepayer and skim off a profit -- but when the ratepayer wants to lower their bill by installing renewable, no, no can't absorb any more renewable all of a sudden.

The AKP deal is a clear demonstration of how money talk at the legislature. Here we have a group of well connected individuals (whose members used to include the DBEDT chief)that have proposed to build a power plant using untested technology with an unknown fuel source using venture capital to make a product with a poor return on actual energy invested against community wishes and paid for by people who do not get the electricity at prices higher than ever seen before but held confidential by the monopoly power company.

Yet, this all seems like a good idea to legislators who willingly gut and replace to make sure the project is enabled.

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