Hawaiian island grassroots organization designs two community solar + storage projects

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Hawaiian Electric and Hoahu Energy Cooperative Moloka’i are working on the state’s first two community-owned and engineered solar + storage projects. These projects can meet more than 20% of Molokai’s energy needs and supply an estimated 1,500 households on the island. Hoahu community-based renewable energy projects, Palau Solar and Kualapuu Solar, are the first on Hoahu to offer a shared solar program (also known as community-based renewable energy or CBRE), where privately owned rooftop solar cannot be installed. Electricity rates for customers on Molokai.

After completing a competitive bid evaluation process that considered project costs and non-price factors, including community outreach, Hoahu and Hawaiian Electric entered into negotiations. Once the 20-year deal is negotiated, Hawaiian Electric and Hoahu will submit two applications for approval by the Public Utilities Commission.

Hoahu Energy Cooperative Moloka’i is a volunteer grassroots non-profit organization founded in 2020 by supporters of the Moloka’i community to enable island residents to design and own renewable energy projects built on Moloka’i. am.

Committed to energy democracy, Hoahu has held over 40 public workshops for Moloka’i residents over the past three years, ranging from site surveys and subscriber benefit design, to interviewing contractors, We co-designed a community solar project, even analyzing different battery energy storage systems.

Pālā’au Solar can provide up to 2.2 MW of solar energy in combination with a 10.1 MWh battery energy storage system. The project will be located on land owned by Hawaiian Electric adjacent to the company’s Pālā’au Baseyard.

Kualapuu Solar can deliver up to 0.25 MW combined with a 1 MWh battery. The project will be installed at the Kualapuu Park and Community Center, with the project’s solar arrays mounted on a carport structure above the existing parking lot.

“These two projects are the right thing for Hawaii and our planet,” said Hoahu President Todd Yamashita. “Providing access to renewable energy to those who need it most. Tenants on Molokai are stranded and unable to install solar panels. Let’s build a farm, the energy and profit we generate goes directly to your bill and the bills of other members of the energy cooperative.”

After the Hoahu project is approved and made available on Hawaiian Electric’s CBRE portal, Molokai customers can become subscribers of either facility. Once the project is built and online, subscribers will receive monthly electricity bill credits based on their level of participation.

Rebecca Deihafu Matsushima, vice president of resource procurement for Hawaiian Electric, said: “These two projects will help customers on Molokai lower their energy bills and further reduce their carbon footprint when generating electricity to meet the energy needs of the island.”

In November 2021, a call for proposals will open for developers, companies, organizations or groups to become “Participant Organizations” for shared solar projects for customers on Molokai. His two shared solar projects on Molokai are expected to come online in mid-2025.

“When Act 100 was passed in 2015, its aim was to enable more residents to benefit from renewable energy generation who would otherwise not be able to directly participate in renewable energy production. The CBRE program has done just that, and I am proud that my home community of Moloka’i has had the opportunity to participate through the Hoahu Energy Cooperative,” said Senator Lynn Decoyt. increase. “These projects are promising steps towards a renewable energy future on a friendly island.”

Hoahu enlisted the help of Shake Energy Collaborative, a Honolulu-based women-owned public benefit corporation, to facilitate the design and development of a community-driven project. Hoahu also selected Maui-based charity Mana Her Pacific to help develop the project’s technology. Many contractors and partners also contribute to the cooperative’s success, including Kohala Center, Morikawa and Associates, Bright Future Consulting, Orrick, X Utilities, and Arizona State University.

Hoahu community ownership is made possible with the support of mission-aligned funding partners such as the Solar Energy Fund, Hawaii Green Infrastructure Authority, Inclusive Prosperity Capital, and the Ulupono Initiative of those who provided funding and consent to the project became.

News from Hoahu Energy Cooperative Moloka’i

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