Waikoloa Village solar project progressing

  • A rendering of what the proposed AES solar project southeast of Waikoloa Village will look like if it proceeds. (Courtesy of Peters Communications)

A solar farm in Waikoloa is one step closer to producing energy for Hawaii Island.

AES Distributed Energy secured a bid and was approved by regulators to build a 30 MW solar photovoltaic array and 120 MWh containerized lithium-ion battery storage system in the first phase of Hawaiian Electric Co.’s renewable project initiative.

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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 managerfor 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.

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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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