SolarCity and Hawaiian Electric Company to develop 15 MW PV project

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Hawaiian Electric Company has tapped California-based SolarCity to build a 15 MW PV system to provide energy for residents on the island of Oahu.

SolarCity, which has local operations in Oahu city of Mililani, will construct the 50-acre (20.2-hectare) project on undeveloped land at the Kahe Generating Station, subject to PUC approval. SolarCity was selected through a competitive procurement process to construct the project, which will be owned and operated by Hawaiian Electric. The plant, which would be the largest PV system on Oahu, is SolarCity’s second major utility-scale project in the U.S. state.

"We are committed to building a better energy future for Hawaii," said Ron Cox, Hawaiian Electric vice president of power supply. "This is a unique opportunity to make a difference for all of our customers because it allows us to quickly develop more low-cost clean energy."

Based on Hawaiian Electric’s preliminary estimates and current fuel costs, the project, over its lifespan, would reduce the overall cost of generating electricity on Oahu by $64 million while displacing approximately 1.8 million gallons of oil per year.

"Hawaiian Electric’s project is living proof that solar power can protect Hawaii’s environment and strengthen its economy at the same time by providing clean energy less expensively than power generated from fossil fuels," said Jon Yoshimura, SolarCity’s regional director in Hawaii. "The SolarCity team in Mililani is honored to be selected for this project, and we’re excited to work with Hawaiian Electric to deliver more clean, homegrown energy to Oahu residents."

Pending regulatory approval and the completion of necessary environmental and cultural reviews, the system is expected to be operational by the end of 2015. The project is planned to directly connect with the grid through Hawaiian Electric’s 46,000-volt sub-transmission system, without impacting residential or commercial customers who wish to install PV systems on their rooftops, which connect through Hawaiian Electric’s 12,000-volt distribution system.

The project with Hawaiian Electric would be SolarCity’s second utility-scale project in the state. SolarCity previously announced that it has been selected by Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) to build a 12 MW (14 MW DC) solar facility on 67 acres (27.1 hectares) near the town of Koloa.

SolarCity, headquartered in San Mateo, California, operates in 15 U.S. states as well as in Washington, D.C.