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Two solar power, battery storage projects are submitted to PUC

Price for renewable energy among the lowest on island

The sun’s energy is converted into electricity by photovoltaic solar panels. The effectiveness of a solar energy system depends on the number of hours of sunshine, the season, weather conditions and the reflecting power of the surrounding surface, Innergex said on its Kahana Solar website. Batteries store the energy produced by solar panels during the day. The energy in battery storage can be used whenever it is needed most, day or night. Innergex graphic

Two Maui solar and battery storage projects, which are slated to charge among the lowest rates for renewable energy on Maui, have been submitted to the state Public Utilities Commission for review and approval, Hawaiian Electric announced Wednesday.

The projects are part of the second phase of request for proposals that made the cut and were announced May 11 by the utility. They are Pulehu Solar by Longroad Development and Kahana Solar by Innergex Renewable Energy.

Pulehu Solar is a 40-megawatt solar/160-megawatt-hour battery project to be developed on 363 acres makai of Pulehu Road on land owned by Haleakala Ranch. Boston-based Longroad has connections to First Wind Energy, which built the two wind power projects above Maalaea.

Pulehu Solar has agreed to sell its power to Hawaiian Electric at 9.2 cents per kilowatt hour.

Kahana Solar is a 20-MW solar/80-MWh battery storage project to be built on 220 acres of Maui Land & Pineapple land, 1.4 miles mauka of Kapalua Airport. Innergex is a Canadian-based energy company.

Kahana Solar is to be built on 220 acres of Maui Land & Pineapple land, 1.4 miles mauka of Kapalua Airport. Innergex photo

This is Innergex’s second renewable energy project on Maui. One of two projects approved in the first round of proposals, its Paeahu Solar project on 200 acres of Ulupalakua Ranch land, has run into opposition from neighbors and is currently awaiting a decision from the PUC on a contested case proceeding.

Kahana Solar will sell its power to the utility at 8.9 cents per kWh.

Only AES Renewable Energy’s Kuihelani Solar, a 60-MW solar/240-MWh battery project that was the other Maui project in the first round of proposals, is charging less. This project, which is slated to be operational by 2022, is charging 8 cents per kWh. Paeahu Solar is charging 11.68 cents per kWh. Two smaller scale commercial solar projects in Lahaina and Kihei are billing 11.06 cents per kWh.

When completed, the two Maui projects in the second phase of proposals are expected to reduce energy bills on Maui by $1 per month, Hawaiian Electric said.

The third project in the second phase of proposals, Hawaiian Electric’s Waena Bess project, was submitted for approval to the PUC on Sept. 8. The 40-MW/160-MWh standalone battery project is slated for 1.8 acres near the Central Maui Landfill with access off Pulehu Road.

Pulehu Solar is a 40-megawatt solar/160-megawatt-hour battery project to be developed on 363 acres makai of Pulehu Road on land owned by Haleakala Ranch. Pulehu Solar photo

These projects are slated to be operational by 2023.

A fourth project, Kamaole Solar, was preliminarily approved by Hawaiian Electric, but developer SoftBank Group Corp. of Japan has pulled out, said Hawaiian Electric spokesman Peter Rosegg on Wednesday. The 40-MW solar/160-MWh battery project was slated for 320 acres of Haleakala Ranch land in South Maui.

Rosegg did not know why Kamaole Solar pulled out. There will be no replacement for the lost renewable power slot in the second phase of proposals, he added.

Hawaiian Electric said the Maui projects will help enable the retirement of the 38-MW oil-fired Kahului plant in 2024. The plant, which is 72 years old, was brought back online in fall 2016 following the shutdown of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., which provided power to the utility. It had been deactivated two years earlier.

There is an urgency to retire the old power plant by 2024 to comply with mandatory National Pollution Discharge Elimination System requirements, PUC filings said.

The Maui projects and six other renewable energy projects on Oahu were submitted to the PUC for approval.

“As planned, these projects will significantly advance our state’s renewable energy transformation and benefit everyone by reducing our exposure to volatile oil prices,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president of business development and strategic planning.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.

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