Maui Business

A&B and KIUC Announce Largest Solar Facility on Kaua’i

July 18, 2011, 1:46 PM HST
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By Sonia Isotov

Maui Now file photo.

Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. (A&B) and Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) today jointly announced plans for a 6 megawatt utility-scale solar facility on Kauai’s sunny south shore.

Under a 20-year, fixed-rate power purchase agreement signed today by the parties, a subsidiary of A&B will be the developer and operator of the facility and will sell the power to KIUC.

The proposed facility, development of which is contingent on various State and County approvals, would be built on a 20-acre, industrial-zoned parcel of land owned by A&B adjacent to KIUC’s Port Allen Station power plant. The site is located in one of the highest solar radiation regions on Kaua’i.

Pending County and State regulatory approvals, construction is expected to begin in late 2011 with completion before the end of 2012.

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“A&B is pleased to increase its production of clean energy on Kaua’i through this investment, and to help achieve KIUC’s renewable energy goals,” said Christopher J. Benjamin, A&B’s chief financial officer, who also oversees A&B’s Agribusiness unit and energy-related initiatives, in a written statement. “Our company’s century-long commitment to generating renewable energy for Kaua’i’s residents and businesses dates to the very origins of McBryde Sugar Company through the operation of our hydroelectric facilities at Kalaheo and Wainiha, which currently generate about 5 MW of electricity for KIUC,” he explained.

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A&B already is among the State’s largest providers of renewable energy, generated by hydroelectric facilities on both Maui and Kaua’i and biomass-fueled cogeneration on Maui.

KIUC President & Chief Executive Officer David Bissell said, “A&B’s facility, which would be the largest solar generation facility on Kaua’i when completed, underscores KIUC’s progress in the solar arena. When coupled with an existing 1 MW facility at Kapa’a and a planned 3 MW facility at Poipu, KIUC will likely have the highest percentage of solar PV on its system anywhere in the country. This project means KIUC members will benefit for the next two decades from clean, renewable solar energy at a fixed price below our current cost of generation and not tied to oil. This is truly a win-win situation for the Kaua’i community and underscores our ability to work with landowners to make these kinds of projects happen.”

“With these solar projects placed in service, and with the completion of previously announced projects, we anticipate that KIUC’s renewable energy portfolio will meet more than 20 percent of Kaua’i’s annual energy needs,” said KIUC Board Chairman Teofilo “Phil” Tacbian. “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.”

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As currently planned, the 6 MW polycrystalline panel solar facility will be integrated with a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) installed by KIUC at the point of interconnection to the grid. The BESS will facilitate greater stability on the KIUC system by maintaining a predictable flow of power from the Port Allen solar facility and other intermittent generation resources.

Additional information about the proposed project will be provided to KIUC’s members at the Cooperative’s quarterly update meetings, while A&B will seek additional community feedback at an Eleele-Hanapepe-Port Allen meeting to be scheduled later this summer.

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