Across 3 islands, HECO seeding big plans for solar farms

The projects are designed to move Hawaii closer to 100 percent renewable energy.

HECO planning seven large solar farms on 3 islands

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaiian Electric Company calls it the largest infusion of renewable energy in HECO history. It’s negotiating with developers to build seven separate solar farms that will include battery storage systems.

Combined they'll produce up to 260 megawatts of solar energy a day.

"Having this big infusion of low-cost renewables is going to mean bills are going to be stable and maybe go a little lower, especially on the neighbor islands," HECO spokesman Peter Rosegg said.

Three of the utility-scale sites are planned for Oahu, two for Maui, and two for the Big Island.

"On the Big Island where Puna Geothermal Ventures is out of service for an indeterminate amount of time, this will be a big infusion of low-cost renewable energy," Rosegg said.

The battery storage component means electricity generated in the middle of the day can be used at night.

HECO estimates if all seven projects get approved by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission it will eliminate the need for 1.2 million barrels of fossil fuel per year.

Will Giese, executive director of the Hawaii Solar Energy Association, said the projects are comprise an important step in the state’s energy future.

"We have a long ways to go on this path of 100 percent renewable. I think there's a lot of ways to get there. This is one of those ways," he said.

Twenty solar developers submitted applications to build the projects. HECO selected seven.

Canada-based Innergex Renewables announced it’s one of them, but HECO’s holding off naming the other companies and where they want to erect the solar farms.

"Before we can say where these are going to be we want them to go to the community and say, 'Look, we want to build this renewable energy project.' It's solar. It doesn't have a huge impact but it takes a substantial amount of land," Rosegg said.

Developers are expected to begin outreach activities in the coming weeks.

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