Input sought on proposed solar project in Waikoloa

KAILUA-KONA — Developers of a 400- to 600-acre solar array proposed for Waikoloa are seeking input on the project they say will generate enough energy to power over 14,200 average households.

Juwi Inc. is seeking community input on its proposed large-scale solar energy project to be located on land owned by BIVWR Investment LLC in South Kohala, mauka and south of Waikoloa Village.

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The array, which would be no taller than 7 feet, will comprise 200,000 to 250,000 solar panels, utilizing a single axis tracker that allows the panels to track the sun across the sky, according to the company’s website.

A community open house will be held from 5-7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Waikoloa Village Association Banquet Room. At the event, the developer will share more information about the proposed solar project, including showing concept drafts and site selection. They will also be soliciting feedback from the community.

The proposed 55 megawatt photovoltaic solar array with a 220-megawatt battery storage system would generate approximately 162.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year, the Boulder, Colorado-based company said in a press release.

“Hawaii is positioned to lead the nation in the transition to clean, renewable energy, and we recognize the importance of community outreach to get the right input before moving forward,” stated Mark Marion, senior vice president of the projects group at juwi Hawaii.

The project would be connected to the Hawaii Electric Light Co. grid and have a projected lifetime of 30-35 years. Construction, which the developer said could generate upward of 200 jobs, would take about a year.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies, under which HELCO falls, issued a request for proposal for renewable energy resources to end the use of coal and reduce reliance on imported oil for power generation, moving the state closer to its goal of using 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 in August.

Approximately 900 megawatts of new renewables or renewables paired with storage – generating about 2 million megawatt-hours annually – were sought statewide. That includes up to 203 MW for Hawaii Island.

As part of the request for proposals, juwi Inc. said it is in active discussion with community stakeholders.

The company is also proposing a solar project in Keaau to include a 32 megawatt photovoltaic solar array with a 128 megawatt battery storage. A community open house is planned for the project from 5-7:30 p.m. Monday at the Keaau High School Library.

As currently proposed, the project would generate enough energy annually to meet the electricity needs of over 11,000 average residential customers. The solar array, which would include approximately 100,000 solar panels, would be located off Keaau-Pahoa Bypass Road.

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Hawaiian Electric Companies said that pending negotiations of contracts and final approvals, the first renewable generation projects from this phase would come online in 2022 with the total amount of megawatts expected by 2025. Proposals are due to in November and a final award group will be named next May.

Comments and feedback on the proposals can also be submitted online through www.juwihawaii.com.

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