Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hawaii's Largest Solar Project Awarded Go-Ahead

Work on the largest Hawaiian solar project has now been launched by KIUC and REC Solar. The 12-megawatt solar project is to be located on Hawaiian Homelands in Anahola on the northeast side of Kauai.

Originally formed in August of 2011, the partnership between the Homestead Community Development Corporation (HCDC) — the tax exempt development arm of the Anahola Hawaiian Homes Association of Kauai — and KIUC originally explored the feasibility of such a project to see if it would be mutually beneficial to the co-op, the people of Kauai, and the Hawaiian Home Land Trust.

Apparently, it was determined that it was. December saw REC Solar awarded the contract, which will, upon completion, bring KIUC’s integrated solar capacity to nearly 20 MW and provide the two their second opportunity to work together — perviously, they collaborated on a 1.21-MW system in Kapaa.

“The growth of the solar industry is due in part to the aggressive actions from forward-thinking utilities like KIUC,” said Lee Johnson, CEO of REC Solar. “This coalition demonstrates the innovative spirit and concern for the environment that has made Hawaii home to the nation’s second-highest installed solar capacity per capita, and we are excited to move this project forward. Solar is a bankable, proven way to grow KIUC’s renewable generation portfolio and meet the energy needs of Hawaii.”

“When the project is successfully developed, KIUC will have more PV concentration than any utility in the U.S.,” said David Bissell, KIUC president and CEO.

$68 million was obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service for the project, reallocated from funds previously approved to construct a 10-MW combustion turbine generator often referred to as Gen X or CT2.

“The benefits are significant,” said Phil Tacbian, KIUC board chairman. “By using the RUS-approved funds for solar development, the cooperative effectively shelves the combustion turbine plant and moves closer to giving our members the clean, renewable energy they have asked for.”

In a release from HCDC, Brad Rockwell, KIUC project manager, described the kick-off meeting as an important starting point “to ensure all of us are working toward common goals, and included the environmental assessment firm, the contractor REC Solar and, of course our KIUC-HCDC team.”

Next on the agenda for the project is to conduct an environmental assessment; assemble a cultural assessment team knowledgeable of the Anahola area in place; and map out the plans for a job fair and employment outreach in the months ahead.


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