Large Solar array above Waikoloa Village

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You may have noticed a large scale construction site on the south-side of Waikoloa Road, approximately, 1-mile mauka of Waikoloa Village. This will be the largest solar array on Hawaii Island by a long shot. AES Distributed Energy was approved, in the last 4 years, to build a 30 MW solar photovoltaic array and 120 MWh, battery storage system. The entire system will produce electricity that will be sold to the Hawaiian Electric Co.’s via its renewable project initiative. In 2018, the Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO) issued the largest ever Request for Proposals (RFP) for renewable energy in the state’s history. Through that process, eight projects were selected including AES Clean Energy’s Waikoloa Solar + Storage Project.

Waikoloa solar + storage project overview

  • 30 MW ac solar photovoltaic
  • 120 MWh containerized lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS)
  • Feeds into Hawaiian Electric (HECO) grid, providing power to Hawai‘i Island customers
  • Located in South Kohala District of Hawai‘i Island
  • Utilizes approximately 300 acres of land along Waikoloa Road
  • 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)
  • Includes decommissioning and return of Project area to its existing condition (or comparable) at end of lifespan

This information quoted from an article by Laura Ruminski of the West Hawaii Today | Monday, June 8, 2020,

“A power purchase agreement with HECO was approved by the Public Utilities Commission on March 25, 2019. Under the PPA, the project would deliver power to HECO at $0.08 kWh — one of the lowest in the state for renewable energy and less
than the cost of fossil fuel according to AES.”

AES Distributed Energy truly appreciates the opportunity to advance low-cost, locally produced renewable energy for the benefit of those on Hawaii Island,” said Kirstin Punu, community relations manager for AES. “Distributed Energy Community feedback has
been encouraging thus far and we look forward to continuing our outreach efforts. Throughout the process, many have asked about the jobs and economic activity this project might bring to the area. We recognize these are challenging economic times and as such, our hope is to begin construction as quickly as possible upon receiving the necessary approvals so the community can realize the environmental and economic benefits from this project at a time when it’s needed most.

The project still needs to undergo a technical update and approval with the PUC.

AES said they are continuing to conduct design, engineering and due diligence on the site and will be continuing their community outreach efforts throughout the process when asked about any further environmental studies the project needs to complete.

Construction is expected to begin first or second quarter of 2021, with completion anticipated before the end of 2022.

AES said the project, located on the northeast side of Waikoloa Road, near the intersection of Highway 190, is expected to contribute approximately 7.1% of Hawaii Island’s energy needs, result in total avoided fuel consumption of 511,086 barrels of oil over its 25-year lifespan The company also said the venture was expected to support 209 direct, indirect and induced jobs and generate $47.4 million in economic output.

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