Oahu's largest solar farm goes online

Oahu's largest solar farm goes online

PEARL CITY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's the largest solar farm on Oahu ... For now.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today flipped the switch on  the Pearl City Peninsula Solar Energy Facility, which will provide all of the energy needs for the Navy's nearby housing complex.

The project cost $13 million to build and it will provide enough electricity to power up to 250 homes.

"This is a big step forward -- and a series of steps taking forward -- inside the military itself to diversify its energy component," Abercrombie said.

The 1.23-megawatt ground-mount solar farm is located on 7-acres of land where military warehouses used to be.

The project, a partnership between the Navy and private developer Forest City Hawaii, took six months to complete. During the peak construction period, it employed about 40 people.

The solar farm is all part of a push by the Navy to become greener. By the year 2020, the Navy says it wants alternative energy sources to power about half of its bases.

"When we become self-sustaining in energy, we reduce the risk to our soldiers, our sailors, our airmen, our Coast Guardsmen, our Marines and our National Guardsmen," said Rear Adm. Frank Ponds.

Being eco-friendly will also saves money for the military, which is one of the largest users of electricity in Hawaii.

"They're able to get power from the sun for less money than they would than buying it from the traditional sources," said Jon Wallenstrom, president of Forest City Hawaii.

The Pearl City Solar Farm one of dozens of large-scale clean energy projects on the drawing board that are being promoted by the state to meet its goal of becoming less dependent on fossil fuels.

Many of those, such as Alexander & Baldwin Inc.'s 7.2-megawatt solar farm on Kauai, will eventually dwarf the Pearl City complex.