Land that once grew sugar cane now provides renewable energy for Kauai

Land that once grew sugar cane now provides renewable energy for Kauai
The land the facility sits on was previously used for growing sugar cane during Kauai's prime agriculture period. (Source: KIUC)

LAWAI, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) is halfway to reaching their renewable energy goals, thanks to a new solar farm on the Garden Isle.

On Wednesday, KIUC leaders unveiled the state’s largest solar-plus-utility-scale-storage power facility in Lawai. The site is made up of 28-megawatt solar photovoltaic panels and a 100-megawatt hour five-hour duration energy storage system.

It sits on former sugar cane land that was once owned by Alexander and Baldwin.

“We’ve passed the 50 yard line and the end zone is in sight,” KIUC’s President and Chief Executive Officer, David Bissell said.

“Now that the Lawai project is online, as much as 40 percent of our evening peak power will be supplied by stored solar energy,” Bissell added. “I think it’s safe to say this is a unique achievement in the nation and possibly the world.”

KIUC has a goal of 70 percent renewable by 2030. KIUC added that power generated at the facility will be purchased by the cooperative at 11 cents per kilowatt hour via a 25-year power purchase agreement.

“This innovative project will be a reliable source of firm renewable energy for decades to come and serve as an example for markets across the globe,” Woody Rubin, President of AES DE, the group that owns the facility, said.

Officials added that another project is in the works on Kauai’s west side at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Kekaha. That project is slated to be completed by the end of the year.

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