US Army, Hawaiian Electric break ground on bioenergy facility

By Erin Voegele | August 23, 2016

On Aug. 22, the U.S. Army and Hawaiian Electric Co. broke ground on a 50 MW power plant that will run on a mixture of biofuel and conventional fuels. The facility is scheduled to be operational by spring 2018.

The plant will be located on approximately 8 acres of land at Schofield Barracks on the island of Oahu. The Army is leasing the land to Hawaiian Electric. Energy generated at the facility will feed into the island’s electric grid and serve all customers on Oahu. In the event of an emergency, it will be able to isolate itself to Army bases, if necessary, to provide reliable power to the Army’s facilities in central Oahu, including Schofield Barracks, Wheeler Army Airfield and Field Station Kunia. According to Hawaiian Electric, the facility will be the only power plant on the island located inland, away from coastal impacts of storms or tsunami. It will also be well-protected on a secure Army base.

The facility will be developed, owned and operated by Hawaiian Electric. According to the company, the base-load facility will make the island’s electric grid more reliable and improve the integration of renewable energy resources, such as solar and wind. The plant will feature modern, flexible and efficient generators that will be capable of quickly starting up, shutting down, or changing their output in response to sudden changes in solar and wind energy resources.

"We appreciate the Army's commitment to renewable energy and to our island community. By working together, we are taking another step towards a more secure and renewable energy future for Hawaii," said Alan Oshima, Hawaiian Electric president and CEO.

"Secure and reliable access to power mitigates risk and allows the Army here in Hawaii to carry out critical missions and support surrounding communities," said Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment.  "This proposed project is a key contributor to Army readiness and resiliency."

The Schofield Barracks power plant project has been under development for several years. Hawaiian Electric Co. included a projected development timeline for the facility in its 2013 Integrated Resource Planning Report and Action Plan, which was published in mid-2013.  In January 2014, the Army filed a notice in the Federal Register announcing its intent to prepare a joint environmental impact statement on the proposed lease of land at the Schofield Barracks to Hawaiian Electric for the facility.  In late 2014, Wärtsilä Corp. announced it would supply a 50 MW Smart Power Generation power plant to Hawaiian Electric Co. for the project.  A few months later, in early 2015, the Army opened a comment period on its draft environmental impact statement for the project. Earlier this year, the Army announced the availability of the record of decision to lease the land and grant easements on Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Army Airfield to Hawaiian Electric.