HECO announces deactivation date of Honolulu power plant

HECO's Honolulu Power Plant
HECO's Honolulu Power Plant

Hawaiian Electric Company will deactivate its Honolulu Power Plant on Jan. 31, 2014, as part of its strategy to increase the use of renewable energy and reduce Hawaii’s dependency on imported fossil fuel.

“Thanks to the lower use of electricity and tremendous growth in renewable energy as a result of Hawaii’s clean energy efforts, we’re able to deactivate some older, less efficient oil-fired generating units on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island. This will help us use less oil and lower customers’ electric bills,” said Ron Cox, Hawaiian Electric vice president of power supply.

Honolulu Power Plant went into service in 1954. In 1957, the power plant was officially named after Leslie A. Hicks, who was Hawaiian Electric’s president at the time it was opened.

The plant’s two remaining oil-fired generating units have a combined generating capacity of 113 megawatts. For nearly 60 years, they have played key roles in meeting Oahu’s energy needs during periods of significant growth on the island and in assuring safe, reliable electric service in downtown Honolulu.

The growth in renewable energy is dramatically changing Oahu’s energy landscape. Today, a growing amount of the island’s energy needs is powered by Hawaiian Electric’s biofueled generating station at Campbell Industrial Park, the City & County’s H-POWER waste-to-energy facility, two wind farms owned and operated by First Wind, several utility-scale solar facilities and more 23,000 photovoltaic systems on customers’ rooftops. Hawaiian Electric is also seeking permission from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission to pursue five more renewable energy projects on Oahu with a combined capacity of 64 megawatts.

As of mid-2013, more than 18 percent of the electricity used by customers of the three Hawaiian Electric Companies – Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light – comes from renewable resources, exceeding the state’s 2015 goal of 15 percent.

Deactivation of Honolulu Power Plant is part of a plan to deactivate a total of 226 megawatts of utility-owned generation by 2016, as described in the companies’ new Integrated Resource Plan filed with the Public Utilities Commission at the end of June. Two generating units at the Waiau Power Plant are scheduled for deactivation by 2016. Hawaii Island’s Shipman plant, which has already been deactivated, will be retired in 2014. And on Maui, two of Kahului Power Plant’s four units will be deactivated in 2014, and all four units will be retired by 2019. Hawaiian Electric has also committed to review its generation resource needs on an annual basis, and based on that, additional units will likely be identified for deactivation in the years ahead.

“Deactivation” means the power plant will no longer be available for routine service. However, if necessary to avoid a power shortage to customers and with appropriate preparation, deactivated units could be restored to operation. By contrast, “retirement” or “decommission” means a generating unit is permanently removed from service and no longer available under any circumstances.

Related story: HECO shutting down Honolulu power plant

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