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Thursday, July 23, 2015

NEXTERA VERSUS HAWAII

Hawaii is on the verge of refusing to allow NextEra Energy purchase Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) for $4.3 billion.  Governor David Ige--who oversees the Public Utilities Commission, which will make the go or no go decision--has come out strong against the deal.  I have not kept up with the details, so the fact that the  Governor has so emphatically made his position know so early in the process is meaningful.  If Ige's ploy is to extract a critical mass of concessions, great.

But I worry that Hawaii is becoming a state that only says NO:
Frankly, I think, ultimately, the TMT will see first light in 2025, there will someday be very large wind farms in Hawaii and some form of a super ferry system will eventually ply our ocean.

In the meantime, I notice that I may be the only local person who actually thinks that NextEra will be good for Hawaii.  They are the fifth largest utility company in the world.  Duke Energy is #1, but #3 is the National Grid of the United Kingdom, while #s 6 and 7 largely power France and Italy.  Thus, NextEra does have deep pockets, something definite lacking with Hawaiian Electric.  

The primary local resistance seems to be NextEra's abhorrence of home PV systems:
  • with 0.45 million customers, HEI has 70,000 rooftop systems.
  • with 4.8 million customers, NextEra only has 3,000 residential PV installations
But NextEra's contention is that major solar farms are far more cost effective.  Surely enough, a report was released last week showing that utility-scale solar is much more economical than small-scale solar.  Projected costs in 2019:
  • large-scale solar farms--6.6 to 11.7 cents/kilowatt-hour
  • residential PV system--12.3 to 19.3 cents/kWh
The two largest PV farms today are in California.  Above is the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm at 550 MW, dedicated earlier this year.  Topaz, also at 550 MW, began feeding electricity into the grid last year:


But, ah, RenewableEnergyWorld com (which represents the "smaller" producers) earlier this week seriously questioned that assertion.  For one, indicated is the fact that Edison Electric Institute in part funded that study, and EEI represents the utilities.  Second, the report was specifically prepared for First Solar, a Walmart-family supported solar developer who views rooftop solar as a competitive threat.

The major point of the roof-top clan is that when you add the transmission and distribution costs, single family installations do compete well.  Well, almost, anyway:


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Typhoon Halola is now up to 95 MPH, with the eye track now seeming to ease between Japan and South Korea on Sunday, weakening into a tropical storm and making landfall over Akita, Japan early Tuesday:


But the only sure thing about Halola projections are that they will change.

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