- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - Hawaii Electric Light Co. is putting the brakes on an effort to expand geothermal power on the Big Island after an independent observer criticized the utility for lacking sufficient planning.

The state Public Utilities Commission assigned Boston Pacific Co. to be the independent observer. In a letter to the PUC, Boston Pacific said the utility was “putting the cart before the horse.”

Boston Pacific said HELCO should study whether there’s a need for the project and identify alternatives.

That’s prompting HELCO to wait until a power supply improvement plan is completed before moving forward with the effort to seek up to 50 megawatts of additional geothermal power, Hawaii-Tribune Herald (http://ow.ly/uwneQ) reported Wednesday. The plan is expected to be completed by April 21.

Boston Pacific said HELCO conducted a request for proposals “without first knowing whether there is a need for the project being solicited.”

HELCO President Jay Ignacio said in a statement that completing the power supply improvement plan will “give us an opportunity to clarify for the PUC, the independent observers and bidders what we are seeking with the (request for proposals).”

The statement also said, “We are seeking low cost energy that also ensures reliability and also is sensitive to community and environmental concerns. We believe we can get that through a geothermal facility.”

HELCO’s response letter to the PUC said it will modify the request for proposals to include changes such as revised operational and technical requirements.

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Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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