Ormat Technologies Inc. is continuing its efforts to resume operation of Puna Geothermal Venture, company leaders said Wednesday during a fourth-quarter and 2019 year-end earnings update.
Isaac Angel, CEO of Ormat, the company that owns PGV, said the Puna plant is expected to restart operations in the second half of 2020, “due to a delay in a building permit that was received just last week.”
PGV, the state’s only geothermal power plant, was isolated by lava during the 2018 eruption of Kilauea volcano, when lava destroyed a substation and covered a few geothermal wells, as well as cut off road access to the plant.
PGV officials had hoped the plant would be operational by the end of 2019 and could sell electricity early in 2020, but the plant experienced some equipment problems when attempting to come back online, and the startup was postponed.
According to a presentation posted on Ormat’s website, permits that have been required for the construction and operation of the substation were recently obtained.
Initial testing is expected to occur during the second quarter of the year. The company hopes the plant will be operating at full capacity by the third quarter, assuming all other permits are received, ongoing efforts to upgrade overhead transmission lines are completed, and the field recovery is successful.
HELCO, which is transitioning to the name Hawaiian Electric, is seeking to reconstruct two segments of its 69-kilovolt transmission line that are approximately 1 mile long and 1.5 miles long, according to the application filed with the state Public Utilities Commission in June 2019.
The matter is still before the PUC.
Additionally, all property insurers have accepted Ormat’s claims and are paying the cost to rebuild items damaged in the eruption, including the substation, according to Wednesday’s presentation.
Certain insurers, however, have rejected claims for business interruption coverage, and Ormat has filed suit against those insurers.
Ormat contends that these suits won’t impact plans to restart PGV.
As of Dec. 31, 2019, Ormat’s total insurance claim was $68 million, of which the company has received $21.2 million.
Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaii tribune-herald.com.