Hawaii’s HECO launches land RFI for more renewable projects

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HECO's RFI will help the utilities scope out land for utility-scale projects in a bid to meet Hawaii's ambitious 100% renewables target. Source: Flickr/ Len Langevin

To help reach its ambitious 100% by 2045 renewables target, the Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO) has issued a request for information (RFI) about land that could be available for future clean energy projects.

The RFI asks interested landowners to provide information about land in Oahu, Hawaii Island, Maui, Lanai and Molokai that could be available for utility-scale solar and wind projects, which have been identified as a “significant component” to the Islands’ generation resource mix.

Interested parties have until 27 January 2017 to respond to the RFI.

“Land is one of the most important resources to consider in the development of renewable energy projects. By proactively identifying potential sites, we are hoping to make the process of developing renewable energy projects faster and more efficient for both land owners and prospective developers,” said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric VP of strategic planning and business development in a statement.

This news is a further indicator that Hawaii’s clean energy industry is headed in the right direction; after the Hawaiian Solar Energy Association (HSEA) issued a report that upgraded industry outlook after consecutive months of solar permit decreases.

The success of the Customer Grid-Supply (CGS) and recent uptick in the Customer Self-Supply (CSS) programmes has been a further driver to recent growth, with the industry showing signs of a “modest rebound” according to HSEA. Difficulties do still exist on both building and utility permitting, HSEA reports, but many solar companies have supplemented CSS applications with off-grid system installations.

To reach 100% renewable energy, Hawaii will need a broad mix of all renewable energy sources, so the modest improvement in the solar sector is welcomed. HECO hopes that additional utility-scale projects will help ensure all customers receive the benefits of reliable, clean and cost-competitive energy; given the expensive nature of electricity in this region, as well as grid issues associated with being an Island territory. 

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