Energy firm will oversee HELCO geothermal bid process [The Honolulu Star-Advertiser]By Alan Yonan Jr., The Honolulu Star-AdvertiserMcClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Dec. 07--State regulators have hired a Washington, D.C.-based energy consulting firm to monitor the competitive bidding process that Hawaii Electric Light Co. will use to select a company or companies to provide 50 megawatts of geothermal power on Hawaii island.
The company, Boston Pacific Co., is the same firm that was hired by the state last year to oversee Hawaiian Electric Co.'s search for bidders to develop up to 300 megawatts of renewable energy and an undersea cable to link Oahu with neighbor island electrical grids.
Boston Pacific, which has monitored more than 150,000 megawatts of energy procurement projects nationwide, specializes in serving the electricity and natural gas sectors, according to the company's website.
Boston Pacific's role in both Hawaii projects is as an "independent observer," a position that the state Public Utilities Commission requires in major cases to ensure the bidding process is fair and adheres to state guidelines. Independent observers receive bids, evaluate them and make recommendations to the utility.
HELCO last month launched the process to select bidders to supply up to 50 megawatts of geothermal generating capacity. That would be in addition to the 38 megawatts already provided to HELCO by Puna Geothermal Venture. A single megawatt can provide enough power to supply the energy needs of about 650 Hawaii island homes.
HELCO's 80-page draft "request for proposals" lays out specifications for the project and what potential developers will be required to deliver.
The Puna Geothermal Venture plant on the east rift zone of Kilauea volcano has the only proven commercially viable geothermal resource in the state. However, in its draft request for proposals, HELCO identifies four other areas with geothermal potential, including a spot on the slopes of Hualalai overlooking Kailua-Kona.
HELCO's timetable is to select a winning bidder or bidders by summer and have new geothermal facilities operating sometime between 2018 and 2023.
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