REC Solar breaks ground on 12-MW solar project in Hawaii

REC Solar announced June 26 that it has commenced construction on a 12-MW (AC) (14.53-MW DC) solar array for Hawaiian utility Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC).

With 57,624 panels, the utility solar project will be one of Hawaii’s largest systems upon completion and REC Solar’s largest project to date.

The 60-acre solar PV system will be located in Anahola on the northeast side of the island of Kaua‘i. Upon completion in 2015, it will generate 5% of Kaua‘i’s annual energy needs. A 6-MW lithium-ion battery system will be installed alongside the array to store energy when the sun is shining and distribute it when clouds reduce the system’s output.

REC Solar noted that it has established itself as a leading solar company in Hawaii, with almost 20 MW of utility and commercial-scale projects complete or underway. The Anahola system is the second project that REC Solar has developed with KIUC, following a 1.2 MW array in Kapa‘a.

“Over many years of experience developing and installing commercial projects in Hawaii, we’ve gained expertise managing approval and development cycles with Hawaiian partners and organizations,” said Drew Bradley, Hawaii Regional Manager at REC Solar. “Our customers count on us through every step of the installation process, from efficiently navigating state regulations to working with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. Delays can be costly, so our collaborative process is designed to help customers like KIUC cut through the red tape and expedite construction.”

A groundbreaking event on June 26 marked the beginning of construction. Hawaii Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui, KIUC president and CEO David Bissell and REC Solar’s Drew Bradley participated in the ceremony.

The Board of Directors of Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative and members of the Hawaiian Homes Commission voted in February to approve the terms of a 25-year lease of 60 acres for the construction of this 12-MW solar array in Anahola. This the third large-scale solar project on Kauaʻi and one of the largest in Hawaiʻi.

The Anahola project will generate electricity at a cost of about 12.5 cents per kilowatt hour compared to about 24 cents for electricity created by burning oil, the cooperative said. It will also enable KIUC to cut its use of oil by 1.7 million gallons a year.

When completed, the Anahola solar project will be one of three large arrays generating power for KIUC. The three arrays – Anahola, Kōloa and Port Allen ­– will generate 30 MW in total. KIUC has committed to using renewable resources to generate 50% of its energy by 2023.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.