Coco Palms to go green

LIHUE — Developers of the iconic Coco Palms Resort in Wailua are working on plans for a 10-acre solar facility to provide nearly all of the new Hyatt-operated hotel’s electricity needs.

Those needs are expected to be great, about $250,000 per month, based on electricity costs of other island resorts, including the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa in Poipu, according to Chad Waters, a managing  partner for Coco Palms Hui LLC.

Unlike most island resorts, Coco Palms has space, with 46 acres, according to Waters. 

“We have the land,” he said. “We’re going to take advantage of it.”

Coco Palms Hui is working with Honolulu-based RevoluSun to construct the 3-megawatt photovoltaic system on 10 acres of vacant property inland from the resort and behind the large coconut grove, on the site of the former zoo and tennis courts.

Waters said construction of the array is expected to cost $10 million, and will occur simultaneously with construction of the hotel. The solar project is currently in the feasibility stage and would eventually require permits from both the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Kauai County Planning Commission, according to Waters. 

Without installing its own battery backup storage system, Waters said it would be impossible to provide for 100 percent of the hotel’s electricity. However, Coco Palms aims to get as close to that figure as possible. 

“Realistically, if we get up to 85 or 90 (percent), that’s as much as you’re going to do,” he said.

In comparison, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative is in the process of constructing a 12-megawatt solar array on 60 acres in Anahola. When complete, it will provide for 5 percent of Kauai’s annual energy needs, or enough electricity for 4,000 homes.

Last month, Coco Palms Hui confirmed that global hotelier Hyatt Hotels Corporation will operate the iconic Kauai landmark once it is finally reopened in early 2017. 

The Coco Palms Resort, which served as a backdrop for the 1961 romantic comedy film “Blue Hawaii” starring Elvis Presley, has remained vacant since Hurricane Iniki struck the island on Sept. 11, 1992.

When finished, the 350-room Coco Palms The Hyatt Resort will become the second hotel on Kauai to hold the Hyatt brand name. The Grand Hyatt in Poipu, which opened in 1991, was the first hotel on the island to be operated by the global hospitality company.

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