Waimea’s Paniolo Power seeking qualifications for hydro system


Parker Ranch’s power company subsidiary is looking for providers for a pumped-storage hydroelectric system.

Paniolo Power Co. LLC announced their request for qualifications from engineering, procurement and construction providers on Thursday. The process will open next month.

The request is the first potential project to emerge from the utility-grade integrated resource plan Parker Ranch initiated last year. A three-party consortium led by Siemens is creating the plan, which will evaluate the merits of an community-based energy solution for Waimea and the Kohala region, as well as large-scale energy resources to possibly benefit the entire island of Hawaii, officials said.

The plan’s main goal is to identify strategies to lower electricity rates for consumers and significantly increase the percentage of renewable energy in the generation mix.

“What we’re seeing is that hydro energy storage is a valuable contributor in many scenarios,” Parker Ranch CEO Neil “Dutch” Kuyper said. “The major capital expenditures associated with (a pumped-storage hydroelectric system), such as reservoirs and penstocks, can have useful lives of 100 years. The practice of running expensive oil-fired generators and curtailing renewable energy seems unfriendly to both ratepayers and the environment. Investing in assets that are capable of storing intermittent or otherwise curtailed forms of energy should be more beneficial to consumers and our air quality. It also seems more rational than spending costly capital on other types of utility assets, such as grid improvements or retrofitting fossil-fuel generation, given the amount of renewable energy curtailment apparently occurring.”

Paniolo Power wants to quantify the capital costs and identify design requirements associated with a wide range of potential hydro-energy storage solutions, from 10 to 200 megawatts.

“We believe that the best way to explore the merits of these storage options is to expose them to the marketplace of ideas and engage in serious dialogue to attract and inspire innovative solutions from local and global engineering and construction firms with expertise in this area,” said Kuyper.

Pumped-storage hydro on Parker Ranch lands has the potential to provide up to five hours of firm, dispatchable power, which would enable load shifting and increase renewable penetration significantly. Wind and solar energy, that would otherwise be curtailed, would pump water to an upper reservoir. Releasing this water during the evening would generate power to meet the evening peak loads, which would further reduce or eliminate the need to run expensive oil-fired fossil generators during peak demand.

“The elevation change of 7,000 feet on Parker Ranch is a strategic asset,” said Kuyper. “If an undersea cable is possible for Maui, perhaps it’s possible for Hawaii Island in the long run. And if that is the case, Parker Ranch could enable a large-scale storage solution as part of an integrated statewide grid.”

To receive a copy of the PSH RFQ when it is released, prospective respondents may email Jonathan Mitchell, Manager of Corporate Development at Parker Ranch, at JMitchell@ParkerRanch.com.