Thanks, KIUC, for leading the way in energy production

When it comes to the cost of power on Kauai, for years, the reaction has been, it’s high. Too high. So very, very high.

But thanks to the creative minds, dedication and smarts of those at Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, we know that’s no longer the case. The cooperative continues to be a leader, not just in Hawaii but worldwide, in renewable energy generation. These folks are not sitting back and continuing with business as usual. They are committed to keeping costs down for their members — and it shows — through the latest and best technology.

That is good for the people who live, work and play on Kauai. Affordable power on a tropical island is no easy feat and should not go unnoticed. We bring this up because we want to give credit where credit is due. And KIUC is definitely due.

KIUC recently held a blessing for what is the largest integrated solar and battery facility in the world. The 52 MWh Tesla Powerpack plus SolarCity solar farm is the first utility scale solar-plus-battery storage system of its kind and will bring KIUC’s renewable energy generation to more than 40 percent.

Why is this project important?

The concept could be used in both small and industrial-scale business to have battery storage on site for things like backup power.

This is only the first step of many when it comes to solar power and battery storage systems. The technology will evolve rapidly over the next few years.

“The beauty of this project is that it allows KIUC to reduce the amount of oil fired power generation needed to meet our peak demand during our nighttime and early morning hours at a negotiated rate of an unheard of 13.9 cents per kilowatt hour,” TenBruggencate said.

KIUC has a list of achievements of which it can be proud under the direction of president and CEO, Dave Bissell, who was named 2013 Utility CEO of the Year by Solar Electric Power Association. It has become a national leader in efficient energy production.

Consider that the average price per kilowatt hour for KIUC members was down 18 percent in 2016 when compared to 2008. KIUC used 10 million fewer gallons of diesel in 2016 compared to eight years ago.

Last year, Bissell accepted the energy technology award at the 8th annual Hawaii Clean Energy Day Conference in Honolulu. According to Hawai‘i Energy Policy Forum, the awardees demonstrated outstanding achievement through transformational technologies, projects and programs leading to a clean energy future for Hawaii.

By using a combination of solar, biomass and hydroelectricity, KIUC hit 90 percent renewable generation for brief periods in 2016.

But in its strategic plan adopted earlier this year, it’s planning to do more for its 33,000 members, including setting goals of 50 percent renewable by 2023 and 70 percent renewable energy by 2030.

That’s nothing short of amazing when you consider that it was only six years ago that KIUC was 90 percent dependent on fossil fuel generation.

Moving toward renewable energy is critical to the future and success of Kauai.

In case you were wondering, here are the KIUC board members, which is an impressive collection of minds and experience: Peter Yukimura, Dee Crowell, Allan Smith, Teofilo “Phil” Tacbian, Jan TenBruggencate, David Iha, James Mayfield and Patrick Gegen.

Well done, KIUC. Your efforts are most definitely appreciated. Our pocketbooks appreciate them, too.

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