The U.S. Army and Hawaiian Electric Company broke ground Aug. 22 on a new 50-MW power plant that will strengthen Oahu’s electric grid, make it more reliable, and improve the integration of renewable energy resources, such as solar and wind power.
The project will be constructed on approximately eight acres of land at Schofield Barracks that the Army is leasing to Hawaiian Electric. The utility did not release any cost information in its Aug. 22 news release.
The plant will be developed, owned, and operated by Hawaiian Electric. It will run on a mixture of biofuels and conventional fuels and is expected to be operational by spring 2018.
The energy generated by the plant will feed into the island’s electric grid and serve all customers on Oahu. In the event of an emergency, it will be able to isolate itself to Army bases, if necessary, to provide reliable power to the Army’s facilities in Central Oahu, including Schofield Barracks, Wheeler Army Airfield, and Field Station Kunia.
The Schofield plant will strengthen the Oahu grid and make it better prepared for emergencies. It will be the only power plant on the island located inland, away from any coastal impacts from storms or tsunami, and will be well protected on a secure Army base.
“We appreciate the Army’s commitment to renewable energy and to our island community. By working together, we are taking another step towards a more secure and renewable energy future for Hawaii,” said Alan Oshima, Hawaiian Electric president and CEO.
“Secure and reliable access to power mitigates risk and allows the Army here in Hawaii to carry out critical missions and support surrounding communities,” said Honorable Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment. “This proposed project is a key contributor to Army readiness and resiliency.”
The plant will feature modern, flexible and efficient generators that will complement increasing levels of solar and wind power on the Oahu grid. The generators will be capable of quickly starting up, shutting down, or changing their output in response to sudden changes in solar and wind energy resources, which provide varying levels of energy depending on weather, time of day, cloud cover, and other factors.
The Hawaiian Electric Cos are national leaders in the integration of renewable energy on their island grids, using renewables to generate more than 23 percent of their electricity in 2015. Hawaii plans to go virtually 100% renewable by 2045.