Commercial operations at Puna Geothermal Venture are expected to begin in the fourth quarter, parent company Ormat Technologies Inc. said Monday in a first-quarter earnings update.
Hawaii’s only geothermal power plant was isolated by lava during the 2018 eruption of Kilauea volcano, when lava destroyed a substation and covered a few geothermal wells, as well as cut off road access to the plant.
PGV officials had hoped the plant would be operational by the end of 2019 and could sell electricity early in 2020, but the plant experienced some equipment problems when attempting to come back online, and the startup was postponed.
In an earnings call Monday, Ormat CEO Isaac Angel said permits required for the construction and operation of the substation have been received.
Two production wells also have been drilled. While one was blocked after its flow test, Angel said the second is ready to be connected to the power plant and is expected to enable partial production as soon as transmission lines are rebuilt.
Hawaiian Electric is seeking to reconstruct two segments of its 69-kilovolt overhead transmission lines that are approximately 1 mile long and 1.5 miles long, according to the application filed with the state Public Utilities Commission in June 2019.
The matter is still before the PUC.
Additional field recovery work, like cleaning out existing wells and drilling new ones, is continuing, Angel said.
“Currently, we expect (a) gradual increase of production to 29 megawatts by the end of the year, assuming all permits are received, transmission network upgrade is completed and field recovery (is) successfully achieved.”
Angel said, too, that all insurers have accepted and started paying for the cost to rebuild the destroyed substation, while only some of Ormat’s many insurers are paying for business interruption coverage.
As of March 31, the company has received $27.8 million from its insurance providers for property damage and business interruption.
One insurer, however, has rejected Ormat’s claim for business interruption coverage, and the company has filed suit against that insurer.
Ormat, however, contends this suit won’t impact its plans for restarting the Puna facility.
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