Firm lands contract for Hawaii solar unit

SolarCity said Oct. 19 that it has been selected by Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) to build a 14-MW DC (12MW AC) solar facility on land owned by Grove Farm Co.

The $40m solar project will be among Hawaii’s largest, KIUC said Oct. 18.

The project will be developed by a subsidiary of KIUC that will enable it to qualify for state and federal tax credits. Because it is a member-owned cooperative, not an investor-owned utility, KIUC can finance the project through the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp., which is also a cooperative.

KIUC and Green Energy Team LLC are also developing a 6-MW biomass energy facility that will burn woodchips from trees grown and harvested on Kaua`i.

The SolarCity project will consist of 54,314 panels installed on 67 acres near the town of Koloa. Once complete, the solar power system is expected to generate enough power to provide about 6% of Kaua’i’s daily energy needs, on average. The system is also expected to reduce the utility’s oil imports by more than 1 million barrels over its lifetime.

“With its goal to generate 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2023, KIUC is setting an example for utilities across the nation,” said Jon Yoshimura, director of government affairs for SolarCity in Hawaii.

Pending the necessary local and state regulatory approvals, KIUC and SolarCity expect to commence construction in July 2013 and bring the project online in 2014.

The SolarCity project is one of three solar facilities in development by KIUC that together will total 30 MW of generation capacity, enough to meet roughly 50% of the island’s daytime electricity demand. KIUC has committed to using renewable resources to generate 50% of its energy overall by 2023.

SolarCity provides service to homeowners, businesses, schools, non-profits and government organizations.

Earlier in October, SolarCity publicly filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) relating to a proposed initial public offering of its common stock.

SolarCity intends to apply to list its common stock on The NASDAQ Global Market under the ticker symbol “SCTY”.

The chairman of SolarCity is international entrepreneur Elon Musk. Musk co-founded PayPal. Musk is also founder and CEO of SpaceX a space launch vehicle company. He is also chairman and CEO of Tesla Motors, an all-electric American car company.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.