A total of 272 Tesla Powerpack lithium-ion batteries provide for 52 megawatt hours of solar dispatch during Kaua’i’s evening peak. Image courtesy of Tesla

Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative has been named as one of a select group of utilities that connected the most solar to the grid in 2018, earning it a spot on the annual Top 10 utility industry list compiled by the Smart Electric Power Alliance, according to a KICU news release.

In survey results released last week, KIUC ranked No. 8 nationally on the utility solar list, with 21.43 megawatts, or 637.9 watts-per-customer, installed in 2018. The 12th Annual Utility Market Survey collected figures from over 500 utilities across the country on solar connected to the grid in 2018.

“The utilities in the Top 10 are truly spearheading the progress we’ve seen in the electric sector this past year,” said Julia Hamm, SEPA’s President and CEO. “It goes beyond just solar – they are implementing replicable business models and paving the way to a clean and modern energy future, something that won’t be possible without utilities’ leadership and cooperation.”

This is the second consecutive year KIUC has made a SEPA top-10 list related to solar capacity.

The AES facility in Lāwa’i features a 20 megawatt solar array with battery storage to facilitate a five-hour duration dispatch during evening peak. Photo courtesy of AES Distributed Energy

“Utility scale solar coupled with customer-sited solar has allowed us to make huge strides toward our Board of Directors’ strategic goal of 70 percent renewable by 2030,” said KIUC’s President and Chief Executive Officer, David Bissell. He added, “Storage is making a difference too. With the addition of the AES Lāwa’i project this year we can now meet up to 40 percent of our evening peak demand with stored solar power.”

AES Lāwa’i has 20 MW of PV with the capacity to store 100 megawatt-hours of power daily. Coupled with the output of the Tesla solar plus storage facility, KIUC now has access to more than 150 megawatt-hours of solar energy after sunset.

An additional AES solar-storage project is currently under construction at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kekaha. That project will add 14 megawatts of solar with associated battery storage to provide 70 megawatt-hours of power during evening peak.

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

The top-10 listings are available at https://sepapower.org/2019-top-10-winners/.