New Electricity Tariff Possible

Peter Rosegg
Peter Rosegg
David Langille
David Langille

(KHNL) - Its an electrifying issue that has some worried about rising rates. Businesses that are hoping to provide their own power, could be paying more just to plug in.

Kahala Nui has many new amenities. And to power them, it has a brand new co-generation plant. "Its a small supplemental power plant that supplements our energy during peak time." says Kahala Nui's Director of Building Operations, David Langille.

But Kahala Nui could run into big problems by running this small power plant.

Because they're also hooked up to regular power lines, Hawaiian Electric Company is proposing tariffs for providing standby power, that would kick in, when the co-generation plant is on. "Its sort of like an insurance policy, that we will stand by and be ready to serve them. But that has some costs for the generation equipment and the transmission costs." says Peter Rosegg, of Hawaiian Electric Company.

The tariffs actually charge, not for power, but just for standing by. In case places like Kahala Nui need H-E-C-O to flip the switch.

"The customer will have the ability to decide how much insurance they want to buy, whether they want enough standby to take care of the entire facility or just their major needs like elevators and lights." adds Rosegg.

HECO doesn't charge customers when the co-generational power comes from solar, wind or other renewable resources. But for those few businesses that have fossil fuel driven co-generation plants, they worry added costs could cut the benefit of providing their own power.

"With these additional tariffs and standby tariffs proposed, its going to make it complete uneconomical to run these generators." says Langille.

The Public Utility Commission heard testimony Tuesday evening both for and against the new tariffs. And will hear more across the state, over the next few weeks, before making a decision on whether the new tariffs should be implemented and just how much the standby rate should be.