KIUC’s Bissell named Solar Utility CEO of the Year

LIHUE — The president and CEO of Kauai Island Utility Cooperative was honored by the Solar Electric Power Association as its 2013 Utility CEO of the Year.

David Bissell received the award in recognition of KIUC’s accomplishments in integrating solar electric power into its renewable energy portfolio.

“David has taken a creative approach to bringing utility-scale solar to the island of Kauai and developing projects that not only promote greater reliance on renewable resources, but are a laboratory for innovation in engineering and utility finance,” said Julia Hamm, SEPA president and CEO.

“Our success with solar energy is built on teamwork, internally with our highly engaged board of directors and talented staff and externally with our supportive community partners,” Bissell said. “Pursuing utility-scale solar that benefits all of our customers is a key strategy to reach our ambitious renewable energy goals.”

Bissell earned the 2013 Utility CEO of the Year honor through his leadership in developing creative financing plans that leveraged federal stimulus money and tax credits to bring the cost of utility-scale solar from $200 per MWh in 2011 closer to $100 per MWh for two 12 MW projects now in development.

Bissell, who has a background in utility finance, was the cooperative’s chief financial officer before being named president and CEO in 2011.

KIUC will break ground on one of those projects on Nov. 6, a $40 million solar array in Koloa that will meet 5 percent of Kauai’s energy needs and replace 1.7 million gallons of oil annually.

A second 12 MW project is also planned in partnership with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands in Anahola.

The cooperative aims to use renewable resources to generate at least 50 percent of Kauai’s electricity by 2023, with solar contributing about 16 percent of the total.

KIUC was honored earlier this year by SEPA as one of the nation’s Top 10 utilities for delivery of solar energy to its customers.

The member-owned cooperative that serves 30,000 customers on Kauai was ranked No. 2 in the list of electric utilities in the U.S. that added the most new solar power to their systems on a watts-per-customer basis in 2012.

KIUC is ranked highest among electric utilities in Hawaii for adding new solar on a watts-per-customer basis.

It is first among U.S. electrical cooperatives included in the 2012 SEPA rankings for adding new solar.

With the addition of a six MW facility owned by Alexander & Baldwin at Port Allen and hundreds of customer-sited photovoltaic systems, KIUC added 282 watts of solar per customer on the grid in 2012.

That’s the equivalent of about one solar panel installed last year for each one of the cooperative’s 28,000 residential customers.

By 2015, half of Kauai’s daytime energy needs will be met by solar PV, the highest percentage of solar PV on an electrical grid of any utility in the U.S.

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