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Hawaii seeking developers for large-scale wind buildout

The state’s utility hopes to approve a number of large-scale wind projects before federal investment tax credits expire in 2019.

State utility Hawaiian Electric Co. is seeking information from developers interested in building large-scale wind projects on the island of Oahu before investment tax credits expire in 2017.

The utility said a report last year revealed other islands that make up Hawaii have ample wind resources but Oahu’s is limited. The request for expressions of interest is intended to identify large-scale wind projects – greater than 5MW – that can be built on Oahu and in time to qualify for federal investment tax credits for renewable energy projects.

“If the capacity for onshore wind on Oahu is in fact limited, then it is important to identify projects able to take advantage of the federal ITC, as the scarcity of available project sites and no federal ITC infers that the price for onshore wind projects on Oahu in the future may be higher,” the proposal said.

Congress renewed a federal investment tax credit in December 2015 to help support an emerging renewable energy market, but the legislation that passed included a measure where support incrementally decreases every year until 31 December, 2019. Projects approved in 2017 receive a 24 percent subsidy.

Hawaii imported 90 percent of the energy it consumed in 2015, leading to some of the highest electricity prices in the US, according to the US Energy Information Administration. As the first US state to do so, it has set a legal deadline to reach 100 percent renewable energy generation by 2045.