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Puna geothermal plant in Hawaii to be expanded under new PPA

Drilling rig at Puna Geothermal Power Plant, Big Island, Hawaii (source: betterplace.com)
Alexander Richter 3 Jan 2020

Under a new Power Purchase Agreement between Puna Geothermal Venture and HELCO, the Puna geothermal power plant would be expanded from currently 38 MW to 46 MW of power generation capacity.

Work continues on getting the Puna geothermal power plant on the Big Island of Hawaii up and operating, as reported by Hawaii News Now before the year end.

Puna Geothermal Venture, the operator, is attempting to resume normal operations after wells were isolated or covered by lava by the volcano eruption that began in May 2018, and now plans to start selling electricity in early 2020.

The lava flows destroyed more than 700 homes in Puna and destroyed the company’s substation, covering wells of the plant, and cutting off road access to the geothermal plant.

The company started to drill a new production well in October 2019. Returning to operations would allow the company to generate electricity, pushing it into the grid operated by Hawaii Electric Light Co. (HELCO). A new Power Purchase Agreement is currently under negotiation of both companies.

HELCO has sought approval of the amended PPA with the state Public Utilities Commission.

The new PPA would be fixed and no longer linked to the price of oil, providing more stable pricing to the customers of HELCO. For PGV this provides more certainty about the revenue.

The interesting part of the new agreement, is that PGV has agreed to provide additional 8 MW of capacity.  That upgrade would provide further savings, highlighting the positive role of the geothermal plant for Hawaii.

“We have enjoyed a long and successful relationship with Hawaiian Electric and Hawaii Electric Light and are grateful for its support of geothermal power,” Isaac Angel, chief executive of Ormat Technologies Inc., the owner of PGV, said in the release. “We are proud to partner with Hawaiian Electric and enable Hawaii’s commitment to clean energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As Hawaii continues to pursue the goal of achieving 100 percent of its electricity generation from renewable sources, PGV is an increasingly critical source of renewable energy and capacity, unaffected by volatile fossil fuel pricing, in this region.”

The existing agreement expires in 2027 and will remain in place until it is succeeded by the amended agreement when PGV’s upgrade is complete in 2022. The amended PPA would expire December 31, 2052.

Source: Hawaii News Now, Energy Central