No Deal Between Jetstream and HECO
Proposed hydrogen development on Molokai speculative
By Melissa Kelsey
The announcement that a $219 million dollar hydrogen power plant would break ground on Molokai in as early as 30 days has been baffling for both local residents and those in Hawaii’s energy industry. Details reported by the Honolulu Advertiser and the Associated Press last week implied that the project headed by New Mexico-based company Jetstream Wind was immanent.
However, Jetstream Wind has not begun discussions with Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) about the possibility of supplying Molokai with electricity, according to a HECO spokesperson. Technology of the proposed development would use electricity generated from wind and solar to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen, utilizing the hydrogen to generate more electricity.
“We have not had any contact whatsoever with this company, not even a phone call,” said the HECO spokesperson.
The company’s idea to establish a hydrogen power plant on Molokai is still in early stages, according to Jetstream Wind Chief Acquisitions Officer and Director Gibo Baca.
“We are in very, very preliminary discussions about that possibility,” said Baca.
While Jetstream Wind is highly favorable toward building on Molokai, they have not yet completed comprehensive research to determine whether or not Molokai is the best location for their project, according to a company spokesperson.
“This power plant will have the complete capability to supply homes and businesses with clean, emission-free electricity,” said the Jetstream Wind spokesperson. “Once there is a formal commitment to the appropriate island and land, we will announce the exact island location to be publicly known and researched.”
Wind developments that are compatible with agricultural uses and cause minimal impact are an allowed use on state agricultural land, according to Joshua Strickler, Facilitator of Renewable Energy Projects at the state of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Wind developments not built on agricultural land are subject to lengthy approval processes. Wind developers are also required by law to do a habitat conservation study to determine how their development affects regional birds, according to Strickler.
“We support renewable energy projects coming to Molokai, but I have not seen anything from these guys in terms of a business plan or a project site,” said Strickler.