Maui’s first solar farms were blessed November 28 in separate ceremonies at the Lahaina and Kihei locations. The ceremonies were attended by officials from Kenyon Energy, Maui Electric, Kamehameha Schools, Haleakala Ranch, Bay4 Energy, in addition to community members and officials.
The two projects, a partnership between Maui Electric Company and Kenyon Energy, are Maui’s first large-scale energy projects providing stable, cost-effective renewable energy to Maui Electric customers. Hawaii Pacific Solar was the local development team.
The 10.85-acre Lahaina solar farm, located on land owned by Kamehameha Schools, came online October 4 this year and can offer up to 2.87 megawatts (MW) of solar power to Maui Electric’s grid at 11.06 cents per kilowatt-hour. The 11.3-acre Ku’ia Solar project, located on Haleakala Ranch pasture land in South Maui, came online May 4 and can offer up to 2.87 megawatts (MW) at the same price per kilowatt-hour. Maui Electric does not mark up or take a profit from this purchased power, passing the savings directly to Maui customers.
Bay4 Energy, one of the nation’s largest independent renewable energy services providers, has been selected to provide ongoing asset management and operating services for both projects.
“Kenyon Energy is pleased to partner with Maui Electric and Bay4 Energy Services to develop and operate these groundbreaking renewable energy projects, creating economic and environmental benefits for Maui’s citizen’s and local businesses,” said Clay Biddinger, chairman and CEO of Kenyon Energy. “We will continue to develop and operate renewable energy projects like this throughout Hawai‘i, including the acquisition of renewable energy projects from other solar partners.”
“Our work to add more renewable energy to power Maui is made possible thanks to partnerships like these with the community, area landowners, renewable energy developers and local policy and government leaders,” said Sharon Suzuki, president of Maui Electric. “Working together and securing large-scale renewable resources benefits everyone with more cost-effective, clean energy over the life of these major projects.”
Currently, Maui County has a renewable energy portfolio of 34 percent – ahead of the state’s target of 30 percent renewable energy by 2020. On some days, a significant portion of the electricity used on Maui comes from large grid-scale and privately owned renewables, such as wind, hydro, biofuels, and nearly 12,000 rooftop solar systems. In June 2017, Maui Electric reached a peak of 77 percent of its power coming from renewable energy resources.
“Ku‘ia Solar provides opportunities for Kamehameha Schools to steward these lands in a way that reduces Hawai’i’s dependence on fossil fuels while bringing ʻāina-based learning to haumāna (students) in the region through collaboration and innovation while fulfilling our mission to improve the well-being of Native Hawaiians through education,” said Kā‘eo Duarte, Kamehameha Schools’ vice president for community engagement and resources. Kamehameha Schools’ lands are home to projects that have the capacity to produce nearly 100 megawatts of renewable energy statewide.
“As Maui’s oldest and largest family-owned ranch, Haleakala Ranch remains as committed today to stewardship of the island’s land, water and other precious resources as we have been since 1888,” said Scott Meidell, senior vice president/real estate and sand management, Haleakala Ranch. “We’re honored to provide highly desirable, managed and healthy ranch lands for important projects such as Kenyon Energy’s 11.3-acre project in South Maui. Renewable energy is vital to the community and to the future of our islands.”