The Public Utilities Commission has approved pricing and other terms under which Hawaiian Electric Co. will buy electricity from a 5-megawatt solar facility in Kalaeloa, the fourth such utility-scale project in West Oahu to get the green light.
The project to be built by Kalaeloa Renewable Energy Park LLC on 20 acres of Navy-owned land will generate an estimated 8.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year, according to the developer. That's enough electricity to power about 1,100 homes using 600 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month.
The target date for completion is June.
HECO will pay 21.6 cents a kilowatt-hour for power if Kalaeloa Renewable Energy Park elects to claim a 24.5 percent refundable state tax credit, or grant. Refundable credits are often claimed by companies that don't have a tax liability in Hawaii.
The rate drops to 19.7 cents a kilowatt-hour if the developer instead choses to take the standard 35 percent state tax credit for the project.
The prices outlined in the power purchase agreement are comparable to what HECO is paying independent power producers for energy generated from photovoltaic panels under the utility's feed-in tariff program.
Kalaeloa Renewable Energy is owned by Scatec Solar North America Inc. and Hunt ELP Ltd. Kalaeloa Renewable Energy will sublease land for the project from Ford Island Ventures LLC, which has a Navy contract to manage the land.
The project will be built on the site of a World War II-era runway at Ewa Field that is overgrown with brush and weeds. The panels will be mounted on precast concrete ballasts that will not penetrate the ground.
Kalaeloa Renewable Energy will pay $2.5 million for improvements to tie the project into the HECO grid.
HECO has so far signed agreements totaling 16 megawatts of solar-generated electricity in West Oahu. A 1-megawatt project built on top of a former industrial waste dump in Campbell Industrial Park began sending electricity into the HECO grid late last year. Three other 5-megawatt projects, including the Kalaeloa Renewable Energy facility, are in various stages of development.
In addition, HECO is in negotiations with developers of eight or nine more 5-megawatt solar projects on Oahu that would add 40 to 50 megawatts of generating capacity to the utility's renewable energy portfolio.
Kauai Island Utility Cooperative also is moving aggressively to develop utility-scale PV projects. KIUC last week announced its second 12-megawatt solar project. Combined with a 6-megawatt project in development, Kauai will eventually have 30 megawatts of utility-scale solar energy generating capacity.
By Alan Yonan Jr., The Honolulu Star-Advertiser McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
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