State briefs for April 2

Largest solar project on Maui gets green light

WAILUKU, Maui — Maui’s largest solar power project was approved by state utilities regulators, according to officials.

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Hawaiian Electric Company Inc. announced the 60-megawatt Kuihelani Solar project was approved by the state Public Utilities Commission.

The project being developed by AES Renewable Energy on up to 500 acres of old sugar fields in central Maui will include a 240-megawatt-hour battery storage system, according to Hawaiian Electric, which owns Maui Electric Co.

Maui Electric will pay 8 cents per kilowatt hour for the power from the AES solar array and battery system, according to officials. The project will provide the lowest cost for renewable energy on the island at prices lower than those for fossil-fuel power sources, the officials said.

Construction is projected to begin in 2020, with the system going online no later than 2022, according to an AES spokesman. About 200,000 solar panels are scheduled to be erected on land leased on the east side of Kuihelani Highway, the Colorado-based company said in November.

The project is expected to “provide enough clean energy for nearly 27,000 Maui homes per year,” said Rob Cooper, AES business development director.

State to pay family of prisoner who killed himself in cell

HONOLULU — The state is expected to pay the family of a prisoner who killed himself in his cell, according to officials.

The state is prepared to pay about $75,000 to the family of 32-year-old Jonathan Ibana.

Ibana killed himself in March 2013 at Halawa Correctional Facility on Oahu, six days after he reported being sexually assaulted by his cellmate, according to authorities.

Helen Coma, Ibana’s mother, filed a civil lawsuit against the state for not preventing his death, according to court documents.

Ibana had a history of mental health problems and was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia after he was jailed in 2001 on charges of attempted murder and sexual assault of his underage girlfriend, according to records.

He was described as suffering from mental retardation, bipolar disorder, severe depression and hallucinations before the schizophrenia diagnosis.

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He reported multiple sexual assaults by other inmates while incarcerated on Oahu and outside the state and tried to kill himself 15 times before transfer to Halawa prison in June 2010, records said.

The state attorney general’s office submitted the settlement to the Legislature for approval.

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