Hawaiian Electric proposes Tesla batteries for Oahu power

HONOLULU — Hawaiian Electric Company Inc. has proposed using giant batteries manufactured by auto maker Tesla Inc. to provide energy to Oahu’s power grid.

The proposal estimates costs of $200 million to $300 million and would accommodate more renewable energy production across the island, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday.

Banks of liquid-cooled, lithium­-ion batteries could become the first and biggest stand-alone, utility-scale energy battery system tied to the grid of Hawaii’s largest utility.

The plan involves placing Tesla batteries in 244 lockers, with each one extending 23 feet (7 meters).

Hawaiian Electric proposed developing the project in 2021 on land next to its Kahe power plant in Nanakuli on Oahu, along with four smaller energy storage facilities on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island.

The five storage systems are subject to a competitive bidding program in which Hawaiian Electric is the initiator but also a competitor and initial decision maker.

The state Public Utilities Commission has independent observers and a technical adviser to oversee the process and proposals.

Hawaiian Electric solicited bids in August for renewable energy production and storage systems of about 900 megawatts on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island.

The initiative is expected to be the largest push for renewable energy in Hawaii so far. Hawaiian Electric plans to select the winning bids in May.

A majority of the new capacity, about 600 megawatts, is planned for Oahu and could be developed with or without attached battery storage.

Hawaiian Electric believes the company can produce stand-alone storage at a reasonable cost because of its capacity to build battery facilities on land it owns next to substations that reduce infrastructure connection costs, spokeswoman Sharon Higa said.

“We can save costs for customers,” Higa said. “It’s much more efficient.”

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