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Developer selected for largest solar project on Lanai

Mikiola Solar will be the first on island to offer shared solar program benefits

A map shows the location of the largest utility-scale solar project planned for Lanai. Hawaiian Electric has selected Onyx Development Group LLC to build and maintain Mikiola Solar, which will also be the island’s first to offer the community shared solar program. Map courtesy of Hawaiian Electric

The Maui News

Hawaiian Electric has tapped a New York City-based clean energy developer to build the largest utility-scale solar project on Lanai, which would also be the first on the island to allow apartment residents and others who can’t install their own solar panels to get credits on their bills for electricity generated on island.

Onyx Development Group LLC has been chosen to construct and maintain Mikiola Solar, a 17.6-megawatt project with 3 MW reserved for the shared solar program, paired with a 73-megawatt-hour battery energy storage system. The project of more than 10,000 solar panels will sit on 73 acres of land owned by Pulama Lanai, adjacent to Hawaiian Electric’s Miki Basin facilities along Miki Road. The location is less than a mile from the Lanai Airport.

Mikiola Solar is expected to come online in late 2024 and has the capacity to meet a majority of the current energy demands of the island, according to a news release from Hawaiian Electric on Thursday.

“We are excited to secure a partnership with Onyx to power Lanai with such large-scale solar energy and provide all of our Lanai customers with more opportunities to benefit from renewable energy,” said Rebecca Dayhuff Matsushima, vice president of resource procurement for Hawaiian Electric. “This is a major step in transitioning Lanai away from the price volatility of imported fossil fuels and taking action on climate change.”

Onyx Development Group is the development arm of Onyx Renewable Partners L.P., a clean energy ecosystem provider headquartered in New York City. The company has collectively developed or constructed over 11 gigawatts of renewable projects in the U.S., including a large-scale solar and battery system in Kapalua, according to the news release. It was selected to build Mikiola Solar after a competitive bidding evaluation of customer savings, completion timelines and nonprice factors, including community outreach.

“The opportunity to work with Hawaiian Electric and the residents of Lanai to decarbonize the grid through this project is important to our future and the next generation,” said Mary Beth Mandanas, chief executive officer of Onyx. “We appreciate the social and environmental impact our company can make and are excited to begin working on this inaugural community-based renewable project on Lanai.”

In November, the state Public Utilities Commission approved Hawaiian Electric’s request for proposals for shared solar projects on Lanai. Under the program, which is also known as community-based renewable energy, a developer of a solar project can become a “subscriber organization.” Customers can then subscribe to the facility and receive credits on their monthly electricity bill based on a monthly lump sum payment, which depends on availability of the project and their level of participation.

The shared solar program allows customers, including renters, apartment residents, small business owners and organizations unable to install privately owned rooftop solar, to benefit from solar electricity generated on their island.

Once Onyx is approved by the state Public Utilities Commission, Lanai customers can subscribe to the facility by applying directly to the subscriber organization or through Hawaiian Electric’s online customer portal, according to the news release.

Hawaiian Electric and Onyx will now enter contract negotiations. Once the 20-year contract is finalized, it will be submitted to the PUC for approval.

For more information on the project, visit mikiolasolar.com.

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