Hawaii Is Replacing Its Last Coal Plant With A ‘Giant Battery’ - Powered By Oil

Perhaps the greater concern, however, is the impact these delays will have on the giant battery.

“If there is not enough solar, wind, or battery storage energy to replace the AES plant, HECO would have to use oil instead to charge things like the upcoming 185-megawatt Kapolei Energy Storage Facility,” Pacific Business News reported.

It’s not a matter of “if,” however. The reality is there’s not enough wind, solar, or battery storage to replace the AES plant. Hawaiian Electric has made this quite clear in recent documents, noting that it would not be able to meet its year-two renewable target (75 percent) for “more than a decade.”

This means that to replace its soon-to-be retired coal plant, Hawaii Electric will soon be charging its giant battery … with oil. In other words, Hawaiians will be trading one fossil fuel (coal) for another, albeit one far more expensive.

This revelation caused the chair of PUC, Jay Griffin, to complain that Hawaiians are “going from cigarettes to crack.”

“Oil prices don’t have to be much higher for this to look like the highest increase people will have experienced,” Griffin said. “And it’s not acceptable. We have to do better.”

The dilemma reportedly had many at the meeting on edge.

One photovoltaic panel supplier told a reporter that he "had not witnessed an exchange like that at a normally staid PUC stakeholder meeting in his two decades in local energy."

A Result ‘Even Less Desirable Than the Previous State’

Using expensive oil to charge a giant battery might not be "acceptable," but that’s exactly what is going to happen.

Hawaiian Electric is of course not actually pulling the plug on its massive battery project, which is moving forward. The threat to spike the project stemmed from a slew of face-saving conditions (and harsh words) from the PUC, most of which the PUC rescinded once Hawaiian Electric threatened to bolt.

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