When Sean Gil Riviere tried to visit a component at Kahuku Agricultural Park last month, he was surprised that the road was blocked – but not by the police or officials of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, who own the park.
Instead, the road was controlled by AES Corp employees, the energy giant developing a controversial wind farm in Kahuku.
While it is not well known in Hawaii outside of the energy circles, AES is a major player in the state economy – which is very dangerous by Fortune 500 to overcome an elected representative like Riviere and the agricultural officials who say that they have already told AES to let Riviere pass.
And AES power and impact in Hawaii is growing. The company will have an external role in whether the state will abolish its own target of fossil fuels to generate electricity by 2045.
AES has a great presence. in Hawaii, including this coal burning plant in Kalaeloa, which produces 20% of Oahu electricity.
The multinational energy based on Virginia's fifth Oahu power from its coal burning plant at Campbell Industrial Park provides. It also operates a huge solar project and a new storage on Kauai, a facility often cited as a model for the type of solar utility scale contained in Hawaii's power supply plan.
The works include other renewable projects: a Kuihelani 60-megawatt solar farm on Maui, a Waikoloa 30-megawatt project on the Big Island, and a 30-megawatt West Oahu solar project.
The company is probably considering more projects.
Hawaiian Electric Co. announced earlier this month that it received more than 75 recommendations in response to a request for proposals to build approximately 900 megawatts of renewables or renewables with storage paired. . The HECO is now evaluating the tenders.
AES would not indicate whether it has planned further projects. However, the HECO targets come with the stated mission of AES “to improve life by accelerating a safer and greener energy future.”
Amy Ackerman, a spokesperson based at AES headquarters in Virginia, did not send back calls for comments. Pono Suganuma, an AES spokesperson based in Hawaii, would not say whether the company has submitted proposals for further projects.
Mark Miller, chief operating officer for the AES SA businesses, did not answer the question.
“AES is a proud partner with the State of Hawaii for almost 30 years, providing a reliable, low cost energy to the islands,” said Miller in a statement. “Together, we are transforming electricity generation and delivery, using technologies that make renewable, affordable power available to the public.” T
Despite AES's leading role in Hawaii, the islands play a small role in the global AES business.
Think, for example, of one of the recently announced projects.
Last week Reuters reported that AES signed a memorandum of understanding with the Vietnam government to build a $ 1.7 billion natural gas-fired power plant in Vietnam. The discussion was so important that it was signed in Hanoi in the presence of Russian Commercial Wilbur Ross.
The AES empire comprises assets worth more than $ 32 billion which generated revenue of $ 10.7 billion in 2018, which the company said in its annual securities filing for 2018.
The company runs coal plants in Puerto Rico, Maryland and Oklahoma, wind farms in California, Texas and West Virginia, and solar and storage projects in different areas, individually and through a joint venture called sPower.
There are still more investments outside the United States; in fact, the company says that 68% of its income comes from international projects, including major operations in South America. For example, its power plants in Argentina account for 11% of the country's generating capacity.
Despite talking about the adoption of renewable sources, only 29% of the AES power comes at this point from renewable sources. Almost one third of coal is generated, including large operations in places such as Chile.
Despite its size, AES failed to impress some members of the public. Riviere is a case.
It was late October, during the protests against the proposed AES Pua Makani wind farm in Kahuku, and Riviere and two other state senators, Kurt Fevella from Ewa Beach and Kai Kahele from Hilo, joined the country. visiting a farmer who lived in the area.
The Riviere team had cleared the visit with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, which owns the agricultural park in which the farmer lives. But when Senators came to the park, Riviere said they were stopped by AES security officers and said Senators could not pass.
“They were very bullied about it,” said Riviere. “What authority do they send guards to the state park?” T
It is not the state. Morris Atta, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture Hawaii, said the agency told AES that the agricultural park road had put AES security aside to be open to tenants, such as farmers, and their invitations.
“We told your AES not to do what they basically did,” Atta said.
The protests against the Kahuku wind farm, which results in 160 catches, are at a time when community support is vital in helping Hawaii achieve its targets for fossil fuels by 2045.
The latest HECO project will have a major physical presence. On Oahu only, HECO hopes about 3,000 acres of new solar farms, about 29 Aloha Situation. HECO officials are concerned that projects may be delayed due to residents' opposition.
To proactively address delays, HECO is selecting a criterion for the public to select projects.
But if HECO is loyal to community involvement, something will need to be changed if AES looks forward to seriously considering any future projects, says Lance Collins, a solicitor representing two groups fighting with Kahuku wind farm – one in state court and one before the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.
“In my short experience, basically, they feel that they are entitled to do anything they want,” said Collins from AES. “They'll only do whatever they need for as long as no one stops them.” T
Bill against Coal-Hawaii Free ’
The recent HECO application for proposals is integrated into the future of AES on Oahu. This is due to the planned scheduling of the AES 180-megawatt coal burning plant in late 2022, and the plan is to replace the electricity produced by the plant from new renewable projects submitted as response to the RFP.
HECO officials are convinced that the company does not purchase power produced by coal from the AES plant after the contract expired in 2022.
However, AES and HECO opposed a bill to enforce this law. Reason: they wish to leave the open option to use coal after 2022.
According to the “Coal-Free Hawaii” bill, the measure said that utility regulators could not approve or renew a contract to burn coal to produce electricity after 31 December, 2022.
But evidence against the HECO bill, Lisa Giang, HECO's senior planning director, warned of serious problems if HECO could not get its planned projects and grid modifications online before the coal plant was to stop. HECO needs options where the project cannot come online, Giang said in written evidence.
“Consequences without this option could be serious,” said Giang.
Giang was echoed by Steven Barnoski, business manager of AES Hawaii.
“There are many factors that may delay progress towards meeting Hawaii's environmental targets and it is important to keep a full range of generation options open to adequately address a potential shortfall,” wrote Barnoski as evidence. “As the future cannot be predicted, it is important that contingency plans are in place.”
HECO officials acknowledged that the coal plant contract provides for the extension of the contract, but the officers promised that the company would not operate it.
AES Director wishes to obtain a New Hawaiian Electric CEO
Despite fighting against the coal-free bill, AES is making great public pressure on fossil fuels, in Hawaii at least.
On the same day AES was signing the memorandum of understanding for its massive fossil-powered fuel device in Vietnam.
“By taking inertia, Electric Hawaiian failed to guide the transition from oil-fuel generation to renewable energy,” wrote Jeffrey Ubben, AES director who is chief executive of ValueAct Capital Management, an investment company with assets of $ 15 billion t , which has invested heavily in a higher education institution.
Ubben indicated that HECO could achieve a 2022 target to generate 50% of the electricity it sells to renewable sources.
“This is a very ambitious goal for the company, and we are not confident about the management's ability to execute it because of their historical record,” Ubben wrote. He suggested that HEI would choose a person from outside the company to progress HEI's long-term chief executive Constance Lau when Laut resigns.
Ubben's letter to the chair of the board of Education Institutions, Jeff Watanabe, urged Ubben to raise allegations of misrepresentation.
“They don't seem to be interested in the facts but it seems they are going to follow their own agenda – in particular, setting aside a CEO for the higher education institution,” wrote Watanabe in letter 12 November placed on the Institutions website Higher Education.
Watanabe highlighted the links between ValueAct and AES, and AES's important role in Hawaii doing business under HECO contracts.
“ValueAct's activities should be viewed in the context of its significant conflicts of interest in Hawaii,” said Watanabe.
As the protests continue in Kahuku, Kahuku wind farm still has legal fights from a group of residents, Keep the North Shore, and Life of the Land, an environmental organization.
Henry Curtis, who runs Life of the Land, and his lawyers are having a knock-on effect with some major cases fighting with renewable projects they said they accepted reductions. A main hearing on the Life of the Land offer before the PUC is scheduled for Friday.
But even if AES hits its cases before the commission and the court, it lost public goodwill, Riviere said.
Ultimately, Riviere said that he and his Senators were able to get out of the AES man and meet the farmer, Chai Yoshimura.
But Riviere still regrets the amount he had to go through to meet an ingredient leasing land from the state.
“It is not right that the community must work so hard to do something that it should be automatic,” he said.
A grant from the. T T Hawaii Community Foundation as part of its CHANGE Framework project.