Hawaii projects rise from the dead

After picking 1.5 GW of solar and wind flesh off the decaying bones of a bankrupt SunEdison for pennies on the dollar, NRG Energy is now making two of those grid-scale projects on the Hawaiian island of Oahu pay off.

Yesterday, the company signed its first power-purchase agreements (PPAs) with Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) for the power from the combined 60.6 MW of the Lanikuhana and the Waipio solar plants. These are NRG’s first projects in the state.

A third Oahu project, the 49-MW Kawailoa Solar facility, is still awaiting a final PPA, but both sides have said that deal with eventually get done. All three projects are targeted to come online in 2019. The PPAs must still be approved by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (HPUC).

As pv magazine reported last November, NRG Energy picked up a portfolio from SunEdison totalling $183 million, or 12 cents/watt. These three Hawaii projects were part of that portfolio. The new 22-year agreements with HECO are for a lower price per watt than the original SunEdison agreements, which were both at about 13.5 cents per kWh.

“Working with NRG to get these projects back on is an important step forward in our renewable energy plans for Oahu,” said Alan Oshima, HECO president and CEO. “Our decision to cancel the SunEdison agreements before bankruptcy has allowed us to bring better value to our customers who will get the benefits of lower prices over the life of these contracts.”

Once completed, the three projects will contribute 3% toward Hawaii’s aggressive 100% renewable portfolio standard.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Hawaiian Electric on these exciting projects which will help Hawaii meet its aggressive 100 percent renewable energy targets and provide decades of clean energy generation in the state,” said Craig Cornelius, president of NRG Renewables. “We’re looking forward to moving construction forward and bringing the projects online as soon as possible.”

Hawaii is one of the leading states in installed solar capacity, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, representing the three biggest markets – residential, commercial and grid-scale projects – in roughly equal measure. Solar adoption in Hawaii has been so robust that it has caused HECO to have some problems integrating it into their grid, though it is working overtime to solve those problems. Its most recent recommendations concerning integration are before the HPUC for consideration.