Hawaii Lawmakers ‘Pore Over’ Request for Pumped Storage Hydroelectricity Project on Oahu

A bill (HB 635) introduced to Hawaii’s 29th State Legislature could lead to the installation of a pumped-storage hydroelectricity project at the Nu’uanu Reservoir on the island of Oahu.

 The legislation – sponsored by State Representative Ryan Yamane (D-District 37) – would allocate up to $6.4 million in special purpose revenue bonds to the Honolulu Board of Water Supply and Hawaiian Electric (HECO) for the upgrade of Nu-uanu Reservoir #4 to meet state dam safety standards.

The system would work by using cheap solar energy during the day to pump water uphill to a reservoir, and then releases that water at night, running down a pipe, turning a turbine and making electricity, according to a report in Pacific Business News.

Indeed, a story that ran on PBN last week noted that an expert had said that there could be between 100 MW and 200 MW of pumped storage hydro potential on Oahu , just looking at existing reservoirs. Those with the most potential for pumped hydro storage include Lake Wilson in Wahiawa and the Upper Nu-uanu Reservoir.

Jeff Mikulina, executive director for the Honolulu-based renewable energy nonprofit Blue Planet Foundation, has told PBN that hydro storage is an existing, commercially operating and cost-effective energy storage technology being used in many places.

“It can store large amounts of energy for long periods of time, thus it can be easily designed to shift energy from the daytime solar peak to nighttime hours,” he said.

If approved, the bill is set to become effective on July 1.

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