HONOLULU — The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission has approved a contract to build the largest solar farm connected to a battery system in the state.
State regulators last Friday approved the contract between Kauai Island Utility Cooperative and AES Distributed Energy Inc. to build the 28-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant with a 20-megawatt, five-hour energy storage system.
When construction is complete, the facility will be the largest solar-plus-utility-scale-battery system in Hawaii and have the capacity to power roughly 8,500 homes. The utility cooperative expects it to be finished by late 2018, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (http://bit.ly/2f7S0hS ).
Approval of the facility will boost the cooperative’s renewable energy generation so it makes up more than than 50 percent of the utility cooperative’s energy portfolio, said David Bissell, the president and CEO. The cooperative is working to reach that goal in the next 18 month, he said.
AES is set to build, operate and maintain the facility over the course of its 25-year contract with Kauai Island Utility Cooperative.
Kauai Island Utility Cooperative said in its application that it will save members more than $97 million over the life of the project.
The facility will dispatch stored energy to help Kauai Island Utility Cooperative’s system ramp up to meet the power needs during afternoon and evening peak electricity demand periods and reduce the need for nighttime generation that traditionally relies on oil-fired plants.