Richard Ha writes:
NextEra Energy’s purchase of Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI), just announced yesterday, will be very good for Hawai‘i.
Here’s what we know about NextEra: It’s a publicly traded company headquartered in Florida. Its principal subsidiaries include Florida Power & Light Company, which was recognized by Market Strategies International earlier this year as the nation’s most trusted electric utility, and NextEra Energy Resources, which together with its affiliated entities (NextEra Energy Resources), is North America’s largest producer of renewable energy from the wind and sun.
NextEra has the balance sheet and other resources to support significant investment in Hawai‘i’s transmission and distribution system to enable much higher levels of renewable energy sources.
Most of all, this change in ownership of our electrical utility will finally make much needed new and different approaches possible. What we all want is a lower cost of electricity.
And each island needs to take advantage of its own resources. One size does not fit all.
For example, the Big Island and Maui each have the options of using wind, solar, and possibly geothermal and some biofuel.
O‘ahu has wind, solar and biofuel but no proven geothermal and so limited opportunities to lower rates. Solar is a possibility. Coal is cheap, but unacceptable. LNG is possible as a bridge fuel.
Maui has its own issues, which are different from both O‘ahu and Maui.
We are unique on the Big Island. Beside solar, wind and biofuels, we have proven geothermal. Once it’s developed, geothermal wants to run 100 percent of the time, and the more it runs, the cheaper it is to the rate payers.
What if we guaranteed the geothermal developer, say, 25MW, and put no restriction on generating electricity for hydrogen manufacturing over and above the 25MW. If, for instance, the geothermal company installed a 30MW generator, they could sell 25MW to the utility and sell the excess 5MW cheap to make hydrogen. That would solve our liquid transportation problem, via hydrogen fuel cells, and we could make nitrogen fertilizer so as not to be dependent on petroleum byproducts. That’s only one example of what we could do with new thinking.
I would resist the temptation to advocate for a cable going from the Big Island. We need to see demonstrated results first.
This sales is an unexpected but very interesting turn of events. We welcome NextEra.