Hawaii’s largest solar farm goes online in Waianae
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Hawaii’s largest solar farm goes online in Waianae

  • COURTESY HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC CO.

    The Waianae Solar Project was developed on 200 acres of land in West Oahu.

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The developer of Hawaii’s largest solar farm said it has begun pumping power into the grid.

San Diego-based, Eurus Energy America Corp. said today its 27.6-megawatt solar photovoltaic facility – with the potential capacity to power more than 4,000 homes — called EE Waianae Solar Project LLC has begun commercial operation.

Eurus will sell energy to HECO at a rate of about 14.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. The facility is jointly owned by affiliates of Eurus and Toyota Tsusho America Inc.

Satoshi Takahata, president and CEO of Eurus Energy America, said in a statement he wants to help Hawaii reach its goal of 100 percent electricity production from renewable energy by 2045.

“Eurus is committed to bringing highly viable renewable energy projects online in a responsible and timely manner to help the state of Hawaii meet its ambitious renewable energy goals” he said.

The solar project in Waianae will triple the amount of utility-scale solar connected to Oahu’s grid.

HECO has said solar farms cost less and are easier to manage than 10,000 separate private systems.

There are three other solar facilities on Oahu, Kalaeloa Solar Two with 5 megawatts, Kalaeloa Renewable Energy Park with 5 megawatts and Kapolei Sustainable Energy Park with 1 megawatt. One megawatt of solar photovoltaic powers on average 164 homes, according the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The second largest solar arrays are on Kauai. Kauai Island Utility Cooperative has two 12-megawatt arrays. The Koloa array went online in August 2014. The Anahola array was completed in summer 2015.

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      • It favors HECO because they are only paying the owners of the solar farm $0.147 while charging homeowners the retail rate of $0.25. This allows HECO to still make $0.10 per kw instead of allowing the homeowner the opportunity to save this money.

        • irt ad1- correction the charge for electricity on Oahu is 33.2 cents a kw so this allows HECO to make
          a 100%+ markup + they pay 14 cents and they sell it to us for 33.2 cents. We are paying way to much for our electricity in this state. We should be getting it for about a 20% over the costs to HECO. this would give them a reasonable profit and our costs would be about 18-19 cents a kw. Even then
          save money & buy your own panels and in about 6 years the cost of electricity is almost 2% for connection to grid.

        • I still think its great that we are using energy produced from the sun rather than from the earths core
          like oil or gas. I have 60 panels and it saves about $800.00 per month in electric costs and it zero’s out every year. so my bill runs about $18.00 to $20.00 bucks per month but the panels cost me around 96
          thousand to purchase and install. so after 6 years its Free for me.

        • wondermn1 please see the effective rates–https://www.hawaiianelectric.com/Documents/my_account/rates/effective_rate_summary/efs_2017_01.pdf

          contrary what newspaper articles say, most people in the state are paying ~25c/kWh (oahu’s rate). not sure how they calculate the average rate, but the neighbor islands inflate the average rate a lot, especially KIUC, the non HECO owned company. They have the highest rates of the 4 main islands despite them being coop, not invester owned.

          wondermn1-an $800 electric bill is ridiculous. You should consider getting rid of your pool and not using your AC so much.

        • goodday – HECO doesn’t have “control over the solar farm”. HECO buys electricity from the solar farm. What HECO has control over is the profit it makes from the electricity that they buy from the solar farm.

      • Will make it even more understandable then ad1: If a homeowner has enough PV panels to cover 24 hour electricity use for that home and theynare in the NEM program, that household pays only about $18 per month, even less by receiving credit if you consistently use less than you produce over a long period of time. The average homeowner without any PV can easily pay $200-$400 per month or even more if they use central air and constantly use their washer and dryer. I did the math before: With about 455,000 homes on Oahu, if every home had PV and on NEM, take an rough average of $(300-18)/ month * 455,000 * 12 months/ year = about $1.5 billion/ year. It is true makes it simple for HECO large PV array generates power from a single pipleline, but realize the technology is there to handle PV fluctuations coming from neighborhood circuits but that is NOT the reason HECO has put the brakes on home PV. It was more about the loss of PROFIT and the CONTROL of a MONOPOLY.

        • again, this project didn’t limit rooftop solar. it was a fair policy decision issued by the PUC. the NEM program was favored the well off and burdened the poor more.

        • regardless of how much electricity HECO sells they get the SAME amount of money to pay for their operating costs. This allows them to encourage energy efficiency as they will not be penalized for selling less electricity. Since the people with NEM are paying near nothing but are still using the grid HECO gets less electricity sales which means rates must be raised for them to cover operating costs. These rates are raised on the people that don’t have PV since they’re the only ones left paying. The people with PV are making full use of the grid, and their variable power causes more burden on the generators as they have to instantly adjust when a cloud passes, yet they are paying near nothing to use these services.

  • Two questions:
    How much money are the consumers saving?

    How much are the utility companies and HECO profiting?

    Of course I am not expecting to get an honest answer, but I would think these are answers we all are thinking about.
    I would think the homeowners with their roof solar panels are saving way more money than continually getting billed by HECO. Maybe reason HECO wants the projects like Wai`anae more than those money saving rooftop solar panels.

  • Now I am all for thinking and going green (Yet I do have my opinion on windmills) and clean energy however with big corporations and lobbyist touting “Green” and “Affordable” when will “Affordable” get passed on to the consumer? Or is it Green and more “Profitable”?

    • Homes that then need water which is scarce on the west side. I am opposed to any further development of the desert half of this island. It strains water resources, and unless the homes have PV or else consume minimal electricity, they are a burden on the power grid as well. I would like to see more solar farms and some desalination plants using that electricity developed on the west side.

  • *sigh* so many people have their pantіes in a bunch for absolutely nothing

    let’s clear up the most common misconception when it comes to heco buying power from an independent power producer. heco cannot profit (or lose) from power purchased then resold to customers. that’s the rules. the cost of power they buy is passed on DIRECTLY to customers. in most cases this is a benefit to customers as purchased power is virtually always cheaper than heco fossil-fuel generated power. case in point – 14.5 cents per kWh for this waianae solar farm power versus the going rate of about 26 cents per kWh. until heco can produce cheaper power on their own it’s in our best interests that they purchase cheaper power from others to drop the going rate even further.

    many people like ad1 and uch808 think this solar farm favors heco. think again. this irritates heco because they are losing sales to these ipp’s which now generate nearly half the island’s power. on top of that the cheaper power producers are given priority to produce power over heco’s own generators so customers can save the most. this puts the hurt on even more. meco tried a couple years ago to curtail wind power favoring their own generation and they got caught by the puc who promptly penalized them and ordered customer refunds. on the bright side purchasing green power helps heco reach the state’s renewable goal which they probably couldn’t do so on their own. it’s a love/hate relationship for heco but probably more on the hate side.

    so unless you enjoy paying even more and more you want this. you want heco to buy cheaper power from others than they can produce and sell themselves. cheaper power is better than more expensive power. it helps to lower your electric bill.

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