Solar farm may short-circuit school expansion

Solar farm may short-circuit school expansion

WAIANAE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow)

Kamaile Academy Public Conversion Charter School sits on seven acres in Waianae. The school teaches kids pre-kindergarten through the twelfth grade. Enrollment's about 950 with projections to grow. Five acres would provide room for more playground space, parking, and buildings to replace portables.

"We would love to have a high school building, a secondary building to house all our students, and we would need space for that," principal Anna Winslow said.

The five-acre parcel the school needs is part of a 160-acre site owned by Eurus Energy. The San Diego company plans to cover the ground with solar panels. Kamaile assistant principal Paul Kepka said the solar site will dwarf the school.

"Essentially, Kamaile Academy is going to look like the center of a doughnut. And we're going to be surrounded by solar on three sides," he said.

Winslow understands Eurus can do what it wants. But she said 18 months ago the company approached the school, asking that it partner in the solar farm idea. Kamaile agreed and asked for five acres. Then talks suddenly stalled.

"They said we're just going to offer you this one acre and that's it," Winslow said.

One acre would be just enough for a buffer zone and an emergency access road but nothing else.

"There would be no space for us to expand," Winslow said.

Eurus did offer to help the school develop a six-acre parcel in another spot, but another solar farm sprouted on that land. Winslow hopes Eurus will re-start a dialogue.

"Just to sit down and look at other options because right now we have no other options," she said.

Hawaii News Now's calls to Eurus Energy's Hawaii contact were not returned.

Kamaile Academy administrators plan to testify tomorrow at a Public Utilities Commission hearing in Waianae.

Copyright 2015 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.