A&B seeking public input on solar farm

‘ELE‘ELE — From sugar farms to solar farms; the times they are a-changin’ in the south.

Alexander & Baldwin announced Friday that it will host a “town hall” meeting on Sept. 28 at ‘Ele‘ele School to gather community feedback on its proposal to build a 6-megawatt photovoltaic facility near Port Allen.

If developed, A&B would become the largest solar-power producer on Kaua‘i. The electricity would be sold to Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative.

The solar facility’s developer and operator, McBryde Resources, a subsidiary of A&B, will have representatives available from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. to meet with interested community members and hear comments regarding the project. Representatives of Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative will also be in attendance.

KIUC signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with A&B on July 18 for a fixed rate of $200 per MWh or 20 cents per KWh.

The proposed facility would be built on a 20-acre, industrial-zoned parcel of land owned by A&B adjacent to KIUC’s Port Allen Station power plant, according to an A&B news release, and will  utilize polycrystalline panel technology. The facility will be integrated with a battery energy storage system to be installed by KIUC at the point of interconnection to its power grid.

Pending county and state regulatory approvals, construction is expected to begin later this year and completed before the end of 2012.

Currently, Kaua‘i has one solar farm, a privately owned 1.2 MW facility in Kapahi. Other energy developers are planning a 3.5-MW facility in Po‘ipu and a 3.5-MW facility in Kekaha. Collectively, the projects could offer 14 MW of renewable power to KIUC, or 20 percent of its peak energy needs.

A 2009 state mandate requires all utilities to increase renewable electricity generation to 40 percent by 2030. KIUC’s expressed goal to is to become 50 percent renewable by 2023.

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