Schofield power plant could be Oahu’s electrical lifeline during a disaster

Published: Jun. 18, 2021 at 4:51 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 5:25 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Deep in the heart of Schofield Barrack’s military base, the Schofield Generating Station produces electricity for Hawaiian Electric’s power grid and stands ready should disaster strike.

It’s HECO’s most inland power plant.

“Our other power plants, Waiau, Kahe and the Campbell Park are all susceptible to tsunami or extreme tsunami inundation. This power plant is the only power plant that’s significantly above sea level,” said Michael DeCaprio, HECO’s director of generation.

The $148-million facility was built through a public-private partnership between HECO and the Army.

Last month, it passed a crucial test when HECO blacked out Schofield, Wheeler Army Airfield and Field Station Kunia. Within six minutes, the station kicked in to power them up.

“What that did for us is it proved the concept that if there is a hurricane or disaster that we can quickly bring energy back up and bring the installation back up,” said Col. Dan Misigoy, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii.

That’s important because during a major disaster, Wheeler could have the island’s only operational runway to bring in supplies and serve as a staging ground for FEMA.

The 50-megawatt power plant sits on eight acres that HECO leases from the Army. It has been feeding electricity to HECO’s power grid for the past three years.

“One of the benefits that the plant has, which is critical, is that it has characteristics that allow us to incorporate more renewable energy,” DeCaprio said.

In 2006, Army Garrison Hawai came up with the concept for the generating station.

“All the power had to come up the hill, up the mountain, and then out to us. That’s when we thought a non-wire solution would be to construct a power plant right on the base,” Army Garrison Hawaii energy manager Keith Yamanaka said.

The bio-diesel station has multiple generating units. During an islandwide outage, it can help jump-start HECO’s other power plants.

The Schofield Generating Station is now an example other Department of Defense installations can follow to provide electricity when grids go dark.

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