PGV production at nearly 30% capacity

  • Courtesy Puna Geothermal Venture Puna Geothermal Venture has resumed operations more than two years after the 2018 eruption of Kilauea volcano halted the production of electricity.

Puna Geothermal Venture is now producing 11.5 megawatts of power, plant leaders said during a community meeting Wednesday.

The power plant restarted in early November, more than two years after the 2018 eruption of Kilauea volcano forced it to stop producing electricity.

ADVERTISING


Hawaii’s only geothermal power plant was isolated by lava during the eruption. Lava also destroyed a substation and covered a few geothermal wells, as well as cut off road access to the facility.

During the virtual community meeting, plant manager Jordan Hara said PGV is producing about 30% of its capacity.

The company said late last year that production was expected to ramp up to approximately 15 megawatts by the end of the year, should an additional production well be successfully connected to the power plant.

One production well and two injection wells are currently in operation, according to Mike Kaleikini, PGV’s senior director, Hawaii affairs. Kaleikini said that full production capacity is 38 megawatts.

“Our plan is to continue working until we’re at full operations, and we’re targeting the middle of 2021,” he said.

According to Hara, a new well is expected to be completed in March or April.

An application for an amended power purchase agreement between the power plant and Hawaiian Electric — which includes a proposal to modify plant equipment — is still under consideration by the state Public Utilities Commission.

Under the new agreement, the rate paid by the utility to PGV will be fixed and no longer linked to the price of oil.

By eliminating the volatility of oil prices from the rate paid to PGV, the new fixed-price contract will ensure that bills are more stable, Hawaiian Electric said previously. This new pricing arrangement follows guidance provided by the PUC.

ADVERTISING


As part of the amended agreement, PGV agreed to modify its current facility to provide an additional 8 megawatts of energy and firm capacity, which will further reduce electric bills and the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.