The utility firm Maui Electric Company is aiming to purchase electricity from two newly proposed large-scale solar energy projects, which if built will be the first of their kind on Maui, according to a recent press statement from Maui Electric Company.
The company filed contracts for the proposals last week with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. Pending the review process and approval, the contracts will see the Maui-based developer South Maui Renewable Resources construct a 2.87 megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) installation near the Maui Research & Technology Park in Kihei; and will see Kuia Solar construct a 2.87 MW solar PV installation near Lahainaluna School in Lahaina.
Once completed, the two projects are expected to provide up to 5.7 MW of solar PV generated electricity for the relatively “low” price of 11.06 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Apparently, Maui Electric Company doesn’t make a profit from purchased power (doesn’t mark it up, in other words), simply passing the savings to consumers.
While 11¢/kWh sounds like a lot relative to recent record-low solar price bids, we have to remember that Maui is an island, and that results in much lower potential for broad economies of scale and higher prices for imported goods. With that general context in place, 11¢/kWh is actually a competitive price on the island.
“Maui County is already a leader in solar energy and we continue to integrate more residential rooftop PV to our electrical grid. There are over 8,000 rooftop PV systems in the County, with close to 2,000 of those systems installed last year alone,” stated Sharon Suzuki, Maui Electric president. “These two new projects have technical controls to ensure reliable interconnection, bring the benefits to all our customers and still leave room for more rooftop solar on Maui’s grid. More than 30% of the electricity used in Maui County now comes from renewable sources, and these projects take us even further.”
“We are pleased to be working with Maui Electric on these projects,” stated Tricia Rohlfing of South Maui Renewable Resources. “Being Maui residents and Maui Electric customers, we have a vested interest in being part of the solution for our island. These projects not only support the State’s renewable energy goals, but do so at rates that should benefit all customers.”
“We’re committed to giving customers more options, increasing renewables, and lowering costs for all customers,” stated Suzuki. “Adding large-scale solar to the wind, biomass, biofuel, hydroelectric, and rooftop solar electricity already in use is an important step in working toward the 100% renewable goal for Hawaii.
Image Credit: Maui Electric Company
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