Hawaiian Electric Looking to Fast-Track Wind, Solar Deal

Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc., owner of the state’s largest utility, has asked regulators to waive competitive bidding rules and allow it to negotiate directly with the owners of five renewable-energy projects.

Hawaiian Electric will buy power from the solar and wind projects under 20-year contracts at an average price of 15.9 cents a kilowatt hour, the current cost of generating electricity from oil, the Honolulu-based company said late yesterday in a statement. That’s about one-third lower than prices paid to existing solar and wind-energy projects in Oahu, according to the statement.

Under Public Utilities Commission rules, Hawaiian Electric must hold a competitive bidding process for power-supply contracts larger than 5 megawatts. The utility is asking to waive those rules as it looks to meet state requirements to get 15 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2015.

“These projects represent an important first step as we are starting to see lower market prices for renewable energy,” Scott Seu, Hawaiian Electric vice president for Energy resources and operations, said in the statement.

The five projects, with a combined capacity of 64 megawatts, may cut generation costs in the most oil-dependant of U.S. states by about $7.4 million a year, Hawaiian Electric said. Hawaiian Electric plans to have the projects producing power by 2015.

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