Hawaiian Electric announced Tuesday it has revived three major solar projects on Oahu that it terminated last year not long before the company that was supposed to build them filed for bankruptcy.
In February 2016, HECO canceled the power purchase agreements for SunEdison’s projects because of the renewable energy giant’s financial struggles and uncertainty over whether it could see them to completion.
The three solar farms, with an overall estimated value of $350 million, were expected to increase Oahu’s solar capacity by roughly 30 percent, and their cancellation frustrated renewable energy advocates and investors.
But HECO officials announced Tuesday that they have reached a deal with NRG Energy to buy electricity at 11.4 cents per kilowatt-hour from the 14.7-megawatt Lanikuhana Solar plant and to purchase energy at 10.4 cents per kilowatt-hour from the 45.9-megawatt Waipio Solar plant.
And the two companies have almost reached an agreement on plans for HECO to buy electricity from the 49-megawatt Kawailoa Solar facility.
NRG acquired the projects from SunEdison in November during its bankruptcy proceedings. HECO noted in a news release that the negotiated prices in the new 22-year agreements are lower than the roughly 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour that had been negotiated with SunEdison.
“Working with NRG to get these projects back on is an important step forward in our renewable energy plans for Oahu,” said Alan Oshima, Hawaiian Electric president and CEO, in a news release. “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.”
If the projects move forward as planned, it’s estimated that the additional solar power will boost the state’s overall amount of renewable energy by 3 percent.
The state has set a mandate of getting 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045. It’s at about 25 percent right now, which puts it ahead of schedule. The next benchmark is 30 percent by 2020.
“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, in the release. “We’re looking forward to moving construction forward and bringing the projects online as soon as possible.”