Project Details

Project Name:
Puna Geothermal Venture
Developer:
Ormat Technologies, Inc.
Technology:
Geothermal
Location:
Pahoa
Island:
Hawaii
Capacity:
38 MW (34.6 MW)
Tax Map Key:
(3)1-4-001:002
PUC Docket:
96-0042, 11-0040, 19-0333
Project Status:
Existing/Operational
Description:
Located in the Puna district on the Big Island in Hawaii, Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) is the only existing geothermal power plant in Hawaii, however, the plant has not operated since May 2018 due to the Kilauea volcanic eruption that significantly impacted PGV and the surrounding community. Originally commissioned in 1992, PGV was modified and expanded in recent years from 30 MW to its current total generating capacity of 38 megawatts (MW) and net generating capacity of 34.6 MW according to Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO). PGV is comprised of two air-cooled power plants, a combined cycle system, and a binary system. The plant has several features to reduce environmental impacts including noise reduction enclosures a low-profile, small-footprint design, near-zero emissions, 100% geothermal fluid reinjection, and continual monitoring measures. In its last full year of operation (2017), PGV provided 30.8% of Hawaii island's annual electricity needs. PGV provided 10.3% of Hawaii island's energy needs from January to May 2018 before its closure. Ormat is currently taking actions to fully repower PGV by the summer of 2020, including completion of a new road to the facility, recovery of several injection wells and one of the six production wells available to PGV, and the restart of several generating units for testing and commissioning. Concerns over PGV's resumed operation have been voiced by community members. In June 2019, HELCO submitted an application to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for approval to construct a new 69 kilovolt transmission line to reconnect PGV to HELCO's grid (PUC Docket 2019-0119). Ormat and HELCO are also renegotiating a new power purchase agreement (PPA) to extended its term, delink the contract price from oil prices, fix the power purchase rate, and provide for certain upgrades to increase the capabilities and efficiencies of the power plant. HELCO is currently contracted to purchase power from PGV at different tiered on and off-peak hours through December 2027 under a PPA approved by the PUC in 2011 (average 2018 pricing): 25 MW firm at $0.1190/kilowatt-hour (kWh) on-peak and $0.1206/kWh off-peak; 5 MW firm at $0.1275/kWh on-peak and off-peak; and, 8 MW cycling at $0.0649/kWh on-peak and off-peak. In August 2019, the PUC suspended HELCO's June 2019 application pending the receipt of additional information on the new PPA being renegotiated by Ormat and HELCO. In October 2019, the PUC opened a new docket to review and approve the new PPA once it is completed.

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