Try Wait – Comparing costs for Geothermal vs. Aina Koa Pono Biofuels

Richard Ha writes: 

It’s all about the cost.

What if we substituted geothermal electricity for Aina Koa
Pono's biofuels proposal, in order to replace the 80MW that the Keahole liquid
fuel-fired plant produces?

Aina Koa Pono’s proposed plan would cost rate payers the
equivalent of $200/barrel of oil.

The “barrel of oil equivalent” for geothermal-produced
electricity is $57/barrel
, and this price will be stable for 500,000 to a
million years. (Geothermal is competitive with – though cheaper than – natural
gas, which is $5.16 per million BTUs and breaks even with oil at $57/barrel;
and nuclear power, which breaks even at $6.26 and $69).

At today’s oil prices, there is an 11 cent difference
between oil- and geothermal-produced electricity. Geothermal is cheaper by far.

The Keahole plant’s capacity is 80MW, which is 80,000
kilowatts per hour. Using geothermal would save $8,800/hour, $211,200/day, and $6,336,000/month.
In a year, the savings would be $76 million.

Why can't we split the difference? Part of the savings goes
to lowering rate payers bills, and the other half to retire debt?

The electric utility should not be punished for trying to
achieve its renewable energy goals. But we have to realize there may be alternatives
that better prepare us for the future. Let's not lock ourselves out of these
opportunities by signing a 20-year contract just because of an arbitrary time
schedule.

In the end, with geothermal we would pay the oil equivalent
of $57/barrel on our electric bills. If we go Aina Koa Pono’s route, we pay the
equivalent of $200/barrel.

Am I missing something?