High praise for solar project

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    The U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands lies along the Kauai coastline between Kekaha Park and Polihale State Park, and will soon have a large solar project which, by next year, could produce enough electricity to potentially lower rates for all Kauai Island Utility Cooperative members.

LIHUE — The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative’s newest utility-scale, solar-plus-storage project being constructed on the grounds of the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands has drawn praise from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Officials from the Federal Energy Management Program have presented the Federal Energy and Water Management Award to the U.S. Navy’s Naval Facilities Engineering Command for the 19.3-megawatt solar field, being built by AES Distributed Energy in conjunction with a 70-megawatt-hours, battery-energy-storage system.

Department of Energy officials noted that the project not only aligns with federal goals to pursue renewable-energy projects, but also supports Hawaii’s renewable-energy mandates, reducing the need to import diesel fuel from the U.S. mainland. The solar project will displace 2.8 million gallons of diesel annually and will produce enough power to energize 6,000 homes.

The AES project at PMRF is the third battery-storage project undertaken by KIUC since 2015, and will be one of KIUC’s lowest-cost power sources. The cooperative has signed a 25-year power-purchase agreement with AES at a price of 10.85 cents per kilowatt hour.

The project will provide renewable power after sunset to help meet KIUC’s members’ electricity needs during peak usage hours. The solar field will also have the capability of being managed as a micro-grid to directly support PMRF’s mission-critical activities in the event of a short-term or extended grid outage and reduce the Navy’s need to use backup diesel generators.

Construction of the solar and battery-energy-storage system will be complete by the end of 2019. However, the substation required for full output of the facility will not be complete until the summer of 2020.

“This project will increase our renewable portfolio beyond 60 percent and, with its favorable pricing, will place a downward pressure on rates beginning in 2020,” said KIUC President and Chief Executive Officer David Bissell.

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