Reporter- Pacific Business News
One of the largest solar energy farms in Hawaii is about halfway done and is expected to be completed in early July, the project’s development team told PBN on Monday.
The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative’s $40 million, 12-megawatt solar energy facility in Koloa on the Garden Isle’s South Shore, which is expected to generate about 5 percent of the island’s electricity, is ahead of schedule.
California-based SolarCity starting work on the 45,000-panel facility last November on nearly 70 acres of former sugar cane field land leased from Lihue-based landowner Grove Farm Co.
“Everything has gone better than expected,” SolarCity Director of Policy and Electricity Markets Jon Yoshimura told PBN. “All parties have been really committed to getting this project done on a timely basis.”
When this solar energy facility is finished along with several other solar projects, including rooftop PV, the utility will have about 51 megawatts of solar integrated in KIUC’s grid.
The average daytime load of electricity on Kauai is between 60 megawatts and 65 megawatts, KIUC President and CEO David Bissell told PBN.
“It’s a real problem, there’s physical limits you can take on a circuit,” he said. “But with smart meters, we have had instantaneous information at the feeder levels.”
The overall load problem is being addressed with the planned development of energy storage systems.
“We’re also looking at the Green Energy biomass project, which should be online by the end of the year [and contribute] about 15 percent of the island’s energy needs,” Bissell said. “We’re executing our strategy. The next step for us is storage.”
Duane Shimogawa covers energy, real estate and economic development for Pacific Business News.