Hawaii Co-op Pursues Green GoalBy Todd H. Cunningham | ECT Staff Writer Published: July 25th, 2011
Hawaii’s Kauai Island Utility Cooperative has finalized an agreement expected to give it the highest percentage of solar photovoltaic capacity of any U.S. system.
The arrangement will also move the co-op, now more than 90 percent dependent on fossil fuels, toward its goal of providing 50 percent of its power from renewable resources by 2023.
Under the deal, announced July 18, Lihue-based KIUC will buy power from the developer of a 6-megawatt solar PV facility to be built on a parcel adjacent to one of its power plants. The parties have inked a 20-year, fixed-rate power purchase agreement.
The site is on Kauai’s south shore, which the co-op describes as one of the highest solar radiation regions on the island. Construction is expected to begin later this year and be completed by the end of 2012.
KIUC plans to integrate the new facility with a battery energy storage system installed at the point of interconnection to the grid. It indicates that the system will facilitate greater system stability by maintaining a predictable flow of power from the solar facility and other intermittent resources.
According to David Bissell, the co-op’s president and CEO, the agreement “underscores KIUC’s progress in the solar arena.” Its prospective PV assets include the south shore facility, along with an existing 1-MW facility at Kapaa and a planned 3-MW facility at Poipu, which is being developed on a timeline similar to the project just announced.
When the PV facilities are operational and their output added to existing hydro and a proposed biomass plant, “We anticipate that KIUC’s renewable energy portfolio will meet more than 20 percent of Kauai’s annual energy needs,” said Teofilo “Phil” Tacbian, the co-op’s board chairman.
“We continue to believe that our portfolio approach emphasizing multiple technologies, including solar, hydropower, and biomass generation, is the best path to meeting our goal of becoming 50 percent renewable by 2023,” he added.