Students from the Island School Hawaiian Studies program blow the conch shell to open the blessing ceremony as Kumu Sabra Kauka and others look on. KIUC contributed photo

Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative and AES Distributed Energy (a subsidiary of AES Corporation) held a groundbreaking for the Lāwaʻi Solar and Energy Storage Project on Kauaʻi’s South Shore. Once completed, it will be a 28 MW solar photovoltaic and a 100 MWh, five-hour duration energy storage system Thursday.

The project — on former sugar land between Lāwaʻi and Kōloa — will contribute significantly to the state of Hawai‘i’s goal of reaching 100 percent renewable energy by 2045, according to a KIUC press release. It will be the largest solar-plus-utility-scale-battery system in the state of Hawaiʻi and one of the biggest storage systems in the world. AES DE will be the long-term owner and operator of the project.

“The project will provide 11 percent of Kauaʻi’s electric generation; increasing KIUC’s renewable sourced generation to close to 60 percent. At 11 cents per kWh, the pricing is well below the cost of diesel and will not only provide downward pressure on rates, but also helps us avoid the use of 3.7 million gallons of diesel each year,” KIUC President and CEO David Bissell said. “Projects like this are possible because we’ve forged partnerships with landowners like A&B and proven industry leaders such as AES. Credit is also due to our Board of Directors for setting bold strategic goals, and of course to our member-owners for their support.”

Kumu Sabra Kauka prepares for the blessing and site dedication with the assistance of KIUC Board Chair Allan Smith as others look on. KIUC contributed photo

President of AES Distributed Energy Woody Rubin said AES has had a presence in Hawaiʻi for more the 25 years, and this first-of-its-kind project demonstrates their continued commitment to the state’s vision of a cleaner energy future.

“This innovative project will help reduce Kaua‘i’s reliance on fossil fuels while generating clean, reliable and affordable energy,” Rubin said.

Incorporating advanced technologies such as battery-based energy storage will benefit those who live and visit Hawaiʻi, providing the island with safe, reliable and higher-quality power and a more resilient grid, according to KIUC. The co-op said the system will provide dispatchable renewable solar energy with the ability to deliver consistent peak power output for up to five hours outside of daytime hours while preserving the ability to provide energy directly to the grid during daytime hours.

Left to right, KIUC Board Member Jan TenBruggencate, KIUC Board Chair Allan Smith, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., Kaua‘i County Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura, State Sen. President Ron Kouchi, KIUC President and CEO David Bissell, State Sen. Lorraine Inouye (Big Island), Brian Miller of AES, Kauaʻi County Council Chair Mel Rapozo, State Rep. Chris Lee (‘Oahu), Woody Rubin of AES, Gov. David Ige’s Kauaʻi liaison Carrice Caspillo Gardner, Ken Zagzebski of AES, and Jerrod Schreck of Alexander & Baldwin. KIUC contributed photo