For years, Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) relied on burning imported petroleum to generate power for the island’s 67,000 residents. But the time had come for Hawai’i’s oldest main island to look for a new, more economical and cleaner source of energy.
Naturally, solar systems offered a more affordable and greener alternative to petroleum for generating electricity. The driving factors of low cost, growing public demand and Hawaii’s Renewable Portfolio Standard led KIUC to invest in a solar farm.
KIUC partnered with SolarCity to build a 12 MW solar farm that would supply 5% of the island’s power. In the end, SolarCity finished construction on time and under budget.
“Throughout our relationship with SolarCity, we’ve been impressed with the caliber of their team and the professional manner in which they conduct business,” said David J. Bissel, President & CEO of KIUC.
KIUC is part of a growing trend of cooperatives that are incorporating solar systems as an asset in their energy portfolio. Cooperatives have also started looking at incorporating energy storage solutions such as SolarCity’s DemandLogic and GridLogic.
In partnership with Tesla, SolarCity is using storage technology to give cooperatives the flexibility to smooth out the electricity production curve, save on demand and capacity charges, and provide backup power for critical loads during outages. This last factor is particularly important to island or remote communities like Kaua’i that may be vulnerable to power outages caused by grid instability, extreme weather or other natural disasters.
As costs continue to fall, more cooperatives are implementing solar panels plus storage solutions to safely and reliably upgrade local electrical infrastructure, leading to cleaner and more reliable energy for members.