Solar project near Waikoloa goes online

Hawaii Island’s first and largest solar plus storage project is now online.

The AES Corporation’s Waikoloa Solar + Storage project is operational and is feeding lower-cost renewable energy to the Hawaii Island electric grid, according to an announcement today by Hawaiian Electric.


The project — located along Waikoloa Road on a 300-acre parcel about 7.5 miles from the Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway — can generate up to 30 megawatts supported by a 120 megawatt-hour battery energy storage system.

Shelee Kimura, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric, said the project has multiple benefits for Hawaii Island.

“Adding more renewable resources helps make the island communities more self-sustainable by reducing their reliance on imported fossil fuels and helping to stabilize electricity costs,” she said in a statement. “With battery storage and advanced controls, the project will improve the reliability of the system by providing energy when customers need it.”

Under a 25-year power purchase agreement, AES will sell energy to Hawaiian Electric at 9 cents per kilowatt-hour — one of the lowest rates for energy in Hawaii. It is expected to reduce typical residential bills for Hawaii Island customers by about $2 a month.

The project will increase the island’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) — the percentage of electricity generated by renewable resources — from 48% to 54%.

For more than 25 years, Hawaii Island has been a national leader in the use of renewables, with a diverse portfolio of resources, including grid-scale solar, private rooftop solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal.

Waikoloa Solar + Storage broke ground in April 2021.

Construction to install the photovoltaic solar panels and battery energy storage system began in November 2021. Testing began in December 2022, and the project was approved to begin full operation in April.

“We’re grateful to continue to work with our partner Hawaiian Electric to support our state’s leadership in the transition to renewable energy,” Sandra Larsen, AES Hawaii market business leader,said in a statement. “Our team is especially proud that this project is expected to provide savings for Hawaii Island residents and will deliver enough clean energy to power nearly 14,000 homes.”

In 2018, Hawaiian Electric began the first phase of Hawaii’s largest procurement for renewable energy resources to meet the state’s 100% renewable portfolio standard requirement.

AES’s Waikoloa Solar + Storage project is one of two Hawaii Island projects resulting from the first phase. The other, Innergex Renewable Energy Inc.’s Hale Kuawehi Solar, is expected to be completed in 2024.

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