Hawaii PUC to review Hawaiian Electric contract with new solar project

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission is reviewing a Dec. 4 application from Hawaiian Electric Co. Inc. requesting commission approval of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for Renewable As-Available Energy dated Nov. 28, 2014 with EE Waianae Solar Project LLC.

Questions the utility in this case needs to answer, said a proposed procedural order filed Jan. 28 by the parties, include:

  • Whether Hawaiian Electric has met its burden of proof in support of its request for the commission to approve the Power Purchase Agreement for Renewable As Available Energy between Hawaiian Electric and EE Waianae Solar Project, for a 27.6-MW photovoltaic facility to be located in Wai’anae, Oahu;
  • Whether Hawaiian Electric has met its burden of proof in support of its request to include the purchased energy charges, the payments made for Compensable Curtailed Energy and related revenue taxes that Hawaiian Electric incurs under the PPA, in and through Hawaiian Electric’s Energy Cost Adjustment Clause (ECAC), to the extent that such costs are not included in the company’s base rates. 

The proposed case schedule includes a Feb. 12 public hearing, and a March 24 deadline for the company to respond to information requests by parties to the case.

In its Dec. 4 application, Hawaiian Electric urged a quick approval. “Time is of the essence under the PPA, and Waianae Solar’s ability to achieve ‘Construction Milestones’ is critically important. Eurus Energy America, LLC (‘Eurus Energy America’) (on behalf of Waianae Solar) explains the importance of a decision and order by the Commission as expeditiously as possible, but no later than June 15, 2015. Eurus Energy America states that a timely decision and order would help ensure that the Project meets its anticipated commercial operations date and qualifies for the federal Investment Tax Credit (‘ITC’), which is scheduled to expire at the end of 2016, and upon which the Project’s low-cost pricing is based. Eurus Energy America also explains that it has placed significant development capital at risk without certainty of Commission approval in order to ensure viability of the Project and to bring the Project to execution readiness.

“Under the PPA, the ‘Guaranteed Commercial Operations Date’ is December 15, 2016, which is prior to the expiration of the ITC at the end of 2016. Further, under the PPA, Waianae Solar may, for a period of sixty (60) days following June 15, 2015, declare the PPA null and void if Commission approval is not obtained by such date. Thus, the Company respectfully requests that the Commission approve the PPA and other matters relating to the Project by June 15, 2015, or as soon as reasonably practicable. The Company recognizes that this is a very compressed timeframe for the Commission to issue its decision and order. Accordingly, the Company will work diligently with the State of Hawai’i Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Division of Consumer Advocacy (‘Consumer Advocate’) on a procedural schedule to timely process this docket and help facilitate Waianae Solar’s request for a timely decision and order.”

This project is anticipated to consist of crystalline PV modules and 1,500-kW inverters, comprising a total Contract Capacity of 27.6 MW. It is planned to interconnect to Hawaiian Electric’s Kahe-Permanente 46 kV sub-transmission line on Farrington Highway in Leeward O’ahu.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.