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Lanai, Molokai focus of renewable energy projects

Maui Electric Co. has been focusing on Lanai and Molokai renewable energy projects amid Hawaii’s ambitious green energy goal of 100 percent renewable by 2045.

After gathering community input, the company incorporated feedback into renewable generation plans that target approximately 4 megawatts of solar or 3.6 MW of small wind, specifically turbines 100 kilowatts or less, paired with energy storage, for Molokai, and up to 9.5 MW of solar paired with energy storage for Lanai.

The draft requests for proposals were released earlier this week on MECO’s website. With approval by the state Public Utilities Commission anticipated to come later this year, the requests will be open to bids from local, national and international developers.

On Molokai, a portion of the MECO-owned property at Pala’au is being pitched as a potential development site. On Lanai, the development site will be on land owned by Pulama Lana’i.

The first projects could come online as early as 2022, the company said in a news release.

The latest renewable energy push assumes that the new Moloka’i New Energy Partners’ 2.64-MW project, which includes a 3-MW battery energy storage system, is on the electrical system, MECO spokeswoman Shayna Decker said Wednesday.

It is anticipated to come online by 2020, she added.

Last summer, the commission approved a power purchase agreement for the first grid-scale solar and battery energy storage project on Molokai, owned and operated by Moloka’i New Energy Partners, a Chicago-based Half Moon Ventures company that will sell power to MECO.

The commission said the project will comprise more than 45 percent of the island’s renewable energy production and lower power costs for customers.

The facility will be located on vacant industrial land owned by Moloka’i Ranch and leased by MNEP. It will be adjacent to MECO’s Pala’au Power Plant.

Plans for Molokai and Lanai renewable energy generation included community meetings where MECO explained the RFP process and gathered comments and concerns from residents, the company said. Feedback from residents, such as “limiting the type of renewable energy technologies being sought in the respective procurement efforts,” has been included in the MECO plans.

“We put together competitive bidding plans where we proactively asked for community feedback on reaching a clean energy future for their islands,” said Sharon Suzuki, president of Maui Electric. “Working together with our communities is critical to the success of bringing stabilized, lower cost renewable energy to all of our customers and reducing our state’s overall imported fossil fuel dependency.”

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.