Isle’s newest power plant producing electricity

The Kauai Power Partners turbine contracted to deliver 26.4 megawatts of electricity to Kauai Electric has already cranked 27 megawatts of power.

It arrived in Hawaiian time, scheduled to be online by July 1, but not actually totally operational until the middle of September.

The island’s first new power plant in 11 years, the KPP component of KE’s Lihue Energy Service Center can single-handedly deliver enough power for one-third of all KE customers.

The residents of Isenberg subdivision already know the plant is open for business, because six or seven truckloads of fuel travel through the subdivision each day on the way to LESC.

Plant manager is Kaua’i native Randy Hee, who has experience at both KE and McBryde Sugar.

The startup delay cost KPP some “liquidated damages,” or fines or penalties called for in the KE-KPP contract, said Hee, who would not disclose dollar amounts.

The delay is blamed on some general startup problems that had to be worked through, said Hee.

A total of 10 people work at the KPP unit, along Ma’alo Road on the way to Wailua Falls. Hee and another manager supervise five operators, two maintenance personnel and an administrative assistant.

The purchase – power agreement calls for KPP to provide to KE 26.4 megawatts of power, but on at least one occasion KE needed more, and the KPP unit delivered, Hee explained.

Also, with new equipment, both KPP and KE officials wanted to see just how much juice the new unit could generate, Hee added.

With the KPP unit generating solid power, that means the end of the Lihue Plantation power plant along Haleko Road.

The LP plant has been generating 14 megawatts, or around 10 percent of the island’s needs, burning both diesel oil and bagasse (a sugar byproduct) from Gay & Robinson. It is now scheduled to be shut down by the end of this year.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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