Hawaiian Electric says geothermal power deal will cut rates for consumers

Puna Geothermal Venture hopes to restart operations in January.
Puna Geothermal Venture hopes to restart operations in January.(Hawaii News Now)
Published: Jan. 3, 2020 at 4:16 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Puna Geothermal Venture and Hawaiian Electric announced a new power purchase agreement Friday, which they said will mean lower electric rates on the Big Island.

The geothermal plant has been offline since lava from Kilauea erupted in Puna in May 2018.

Lava eventually overran part of the plant property and destroyed electric lines and access roads.

Critics say its too early to drill or reopen the plant, but the company said it hopes to start producing electricity again this year after Public Utilities Commission approval of its repair plans. The PUC held up approval after telling HECO and PGV to develop a new pricing agreement by the end of 2019.

Under the new rate agreement, HECO said the bill for a typical Hawaii Island customer, now paying $182 a month, will drop by about $7.50 in 2022 and about $13 a month in 2023.

Hawaiian Electric said the rate it will pay PGV will no longer be tied to the price of power produced by fossil fuels. HECO said it will be paying PGV between 11 and 13 cents per kilowatt hour.

The current cost of power generated by burning oil is 18 cents.

The 38-megawatt plant would also expand production by eight megawatts.

At that level of production, the company said 70% of Hawaii island’s electricity will be from renewable sources, which produce less greenhouse gases.

The deal and other steps to reopen the plant still need PUC approval.

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