HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission has cleared the way for a large-scale renewable energy project on the island of Molokai.
The commission approved a power purchase agreement Monday for the island’s first grid-scale solar and battery energy storage project, which aims to lower electric costs for customers and make up nearly half of Molokai’s renewable energy production.
Molokai New Energy Partners will own and operate the facility that will be built on vacant industrial land leased from Molokai Ranch. The facility will sell electricity to the Maui Electric Co., which has 3,200 customers on the island.
The project will include 4.88 MW of solar panels. Its battery system will store energy and discharge up to 2.6 MW during peak hours.
“Molokai New Energy Partners is very pleased with the recent decision by the PUC regarding our solar and battery storage project,” said Charles Magolske, the company’s executive vice president of corporate development. “We look forward to progressing the construction of this project and bringing lower cost clean solar power to Molokai.”
The Maui Electric Company expects the project to be up and running by the end of 2019. The power purchase agreement is for 22 years.
“As this solar and battery project moves forward, we recognize there is still much to be done in our efforts to reach 100 percent renewable energy on Molokai,” said Sharon Suzuki, president of Maui Electric.
She added: “We’ll be seeking more affordable renewables to power the island and look forward to continue working with the Molokai community, policy makers and renewable energy developers to achieve this ambitious goal.”