PUC OKs Hawaiian Electric’s test of biofuel blends

The state Public Utilities Commission has given Hawaiian Electric Co. permission to test biofuel blends in a 90-megawatt steam turbine generating unit at the Kahe power plant that currently uses low sulfur fuel oil.

“This test is part of our continuing effort to switch Hawaii from ‘black’ fuel to ‘green’ fuel for electricity and to encourage an agricultural energy industry here to supply a significant part of our energy,” Robbie Alm, Hawaiian Electric executive vice president, said Tuesday.

The test will determine how much biofuel can be mixed with petroleum in existing steam turbines that provide power on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island.

“If successful, using biofuel will reduce our dependence on imported oil, help meet our 40 percent renewable energy goal by 2030 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Alm said. “Accomplishing these goals by fuel switching in our existing generating units rather than building new facilities will save our customers billions of dollars.”

The PUC has given the utility permission to spend up to $4.7 million on new equipment needed for the test.

No matter the outcome, the equipment — including pumps and motors, a motor control center, valves and filters — will be used beyond the end of the test, HECO said.

The 30-day test using crude palm oil will start in about seven months, after the installation of the new equipment and the arrival of the biofuel, the company said.

Hawaiian Electric, a subsidiary of Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc., estimated the test will add a one-time cost of $4 to the typical Oahu residential bill. The PUC told the utility to spread the cost over two months to reduce the impact on customers.


For more information about Biofuel Investments please visit www.sceptreinternational.com

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