(BIVN) – A blessing ceremony and celebration was held Thursday for the commissioning of the Waikoloa Solar + Storage facility, touted as the largest renewable energy project on Hawai‘i island.
From a news release by AES Hawaiʻi:
AES Hawaiʻi today celebrated the Waikoloa Solar + Storage project, the largest renewable energy project on Hawai‘i Island, with a blessing ceremony featuring Governor Josh Green, M.D., and attended by state and county lawmakers, officials from Hawaiian Electric, and business and community leaders.
Located on 300 acres along Waikoloa Road amidst miles of open land around the project site, the Waikoloa Solar + Storage project is a 42 MW (DC) solar facility complemented by a 120 MWh battery energy storage system.
This is the first Hawai‘i Island project delivered by AES Hawai‘i to Hawaiian Electric and it is making a notable impact for the benefit of customers island-wide. Under the 25-year power purchase agreement, the Waikoloa Solar + Storage project is providing energy to Hawaiian Electric at nine cents per kilowatt-hour, one of the lowest rates in the state. The project is supplementing Hawaiian Electric’s Hawai‘i Island grid with enough energy to power the equivalent of 13,600 homes while lowering electrical bills for households across the island by approximately $5 per month.
Governor Green commended how the Waikoloa Solar + Storage project is fulfilling key long-term objectives for Hawai‘i Island residents. “I noted at the start of our administration that Hawai‘i will be a leader in addressing the great challenge of climate change, and this renewable energy project in Waikoloa is an example of how we can get that done,” said Governor Green. “AES Hawai‘i and Hawaiian Electric deserve credit for partnering on a project with a purpose to produce clean energy that supports the electricity demands of our residents while making it more affordable. That’s an ideal combination for the future of our state.”
Bringing the Waikoloa Solar + Storage project to completion took four-and-a half years, including design and engineering, permitting and governmental approvals, and construction. The project broke ground in April 2021 with construction taking longer than originally anticipated due to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic affecting supply chain logistics and the securing of critical materials, issues that hampered the entire solar industry.
Bernerd Da Santos, Executive Vice President, COO and President of AES Global Renewables, said the Waikoloa project embodies the commitment of AES to deliver greener, smarter energy solutions to meet changing energy needs.
“Hawai‘i is laying the groundwork for a transition to renewables, and we will continue to build on this work to accelerate the transition, create jobs and support a sustainable economy,” said Da Santos. “Despite recent challenges faced by the industry, we have continued to deliver on our commitments and are pleased to be able to celebrate this milestone today with our partners, people, and the community. The Waikoloa solar and battery storage project truly embodies the future of energy in Hawai‘i. The positive impact the project will have on the environment and the community extends far beyond the next 25 years, and we look forward to co-creating more transformative projects like this in the future.”
Sandra Larsen, AES Hawai‘i Market Business Leader, noted the Waikoloa Solar + Storage project will improve the environment by eliminating more than 511,000 barrels of oil to generate electricity over its 25-year lifespan, consequently reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Larsen said, “The environmental benefits of our new Waikoloa facility is possible because of the perseverance our team of employees demonstrated in bringing it to full operation. We also appreciate our continued collaboration with Hawaiian Electric and the shared vision we have for wanting to make Hawai‘i Island a better place for future generations to grow and thrive.”
Larsen added that the project will reinforce Hawaiian Electric’s Hawai‘i Island grid and help mitigate the impact of future blackouts as a result of natural disasters or extreme weather conditions, such as tropical storms or high winds. To that end, AES Hawai‘i supplemented Hawaiian Electric’s grid in December 2022 by providing energy from the Waikoloa Solar + Storage project, ahead of full commercial launch, in response to an emergency situation when power was knocked out for many customers.
This past January, Hawaiian Electric employees joined AES Hawai‘i employees for a service project planting native Hawai‘i trees of ‘a‘ali‘i, ‘āweoweo, ohe makai, and wiliwili in support of a partnership between AES Hawai‘i and the nonprofit Waikōloa Dry Forest Initiative. The 275-acre conservation area is located next to the Waikoloa Solar + Storage facility. AES Hawai‘i has adopted an acre of the forest, is planting 300 native Hawai‘i trees, making a donation to the organization, and supporting educational programs teaching students about the importance of reforestation and protecting the environment on Hawai‘i Island.
The AES Corporation (NYSE: AES) is a Fortune 500 global energy company accelerating the future of energy. Together with our many stakeholders, we are improving lives by delivering the greener, smarter energy solutions the world needs. Our diverse workforce is committed to continuous innovation and operational excellence, while partnering with our customers on their strategic energy transitions and continuing to meet their energy needs today. For more information, visit www.aes.com.
In support of Hawai‘i’s 100% renewable energy goal of 2045, AES Hawai‘i is accelerating its commitment to a greener energy future with nine renewable projects currently in operation or under development in the state, more than any other renewable energy developer. These projects will collectively provide more than 300 MW of renewable energy, enough to power 120,000 homes statewide, while eliminating more than 175,000 metric tons of carbon emissions and 15.2 million barrels of oil consumption over the course of their lifecycles. For more information about AES Hawai‘i, please visit aeshawaiienergy.com.