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Energy storage earns more awards for KIUC

LIHUE — Kauai Island Utility Cooperative led the nation again in 2018 for interconnection of energy storage watts per customer, and ranked second in annual energy storage capacity, according to the Smart Electric Power Alliance.

In 2018, KIUC posted more than 3,000 Wh/C, nearly six times more than the next ranked utility: Sterling Municipal Light Department in Massachusetts. This is the second year running that KIUC topped the list of storage watts per customer.

For annual energy storage capacity, KIUC ranked behind Southern California Edison, and logged more than 30% more megawatt hours (MWh) capacity than Pacific Gas and Electric, which ranked third.

The rankings were included in SEPA’s 2019 Utility Energy Storage Market Snapshot, which was released last week.

The report tracks the amount of solar power interconnected to the grid each year, and also collects energy storage and demand response deployment data. According to SEPA, the participating utilities represent more than 82 million customer accounts, or approximately 56% of all customer accounts throughout the U.S.

“The addition of the AES Lawai solar plus storage facility launched KIUC significantly forward in the rankings,” said David Bissell KIUC president and chief executive officer.

“Combined with the Tesla facility, which opened in 2017, we are now able to meet 40% of our evening peak with stored solar power.” The Tesla facility, located in Kapaia, can store 52 MWh daily. AES Lawai stores up to 100 MWh for use during nighttime peak, or as needed.

KIUC’s board of directors has set a goal of reaching 70% renewable generation by 2030. So far in 2019, KIUC is generating 55% of its electricity from renewables. One additional solar-storage project is under construction with AES in Kekaha at the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility, and is expected to be complete in 2020. The addition of AES/PMRF will push KIUC’s renewable generation to more than 60%.

“All of these projects are being procured via long-term purchase agreements at prices well below the current cost of oil,” said Bissell. “This provides us with pricing stability and a downward pressure on rates over time.”

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