Commitment to Renewable Energy
Kauai Island Utility Cooperative has launched an ambitious program to generate 50 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2023. When complete, KIUC will be one of the greenest utilities in America, and a national example for the development of utility-scale renewable energy projects. It will also promote long-term rate stability for KIUC members by reducing the impact of volatile fossil fuel prices on the cost of electricity.
KIUC is taking a portfolio approach to meet its renewable goal, pursuing a variety of projects using different technologies. These projects include:
KIUC has partnered with REC Solar to purchase power from a photovoltaic solar farm in Kapa’a. The project was commissioned in February 2011, and is capable of producing 1.2 mW of electricity. It is the first utility-scale solar project in Kauai. KIUC is pursuing two additional solar projects.
Battery Energy Storage System
KIUC has partnered with Xtreme Power, Inc. to install a 1.2 mW battery energy storage system at the Koloa substation. The project is scheduled to be installed this year. The batteries help stabilize the intermittent energy generated by solar projects. If additional solar projects are built, KUIC has an option to install additional battery storage capacity.
In January 2011, KIUC announced an agreement to purchase power from a proposed biomass-to-energy facility near Koloa. If built as proposed, the plant will have a capacity of 6.7 mW and be fueled by biomass from several sources, including waste from Hawaiian Mahogany, Inc. and short-rotation vegetation grown on approximately 2,000 acres. Invasive trees will be clear cut and used as fuel, and replaced by fast-growing native trees.KIUC is partnering with Standardkessel, a German company that is the world leader in biomass generation technology, to develop this project.
KIUC is working with Free Flow Power (FFP), a national expert in small hydro technology, to explore the viability of developing a series of hydroelectric projects on Kauai. These projects are in the early, exploratory stages, and will be subject to rigorous regulatory review and aggressive stakeholder input prior to final approval and construction. KIUC and FFP have filed initial applications with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for four projects on the island. If those applications are granted, they give KIUC and FFP a three-year window to further explore these projects.
KIUC and FFP have begun an extensive stakeholder engagement and investigative process that considers the economic, technical, environmental, social, and cultural impacts of each project. Neither the decision to move forward with any or all of the projects, nor the final design of each project that moves forward, will be made until the conclusion of that process.
KIUC has joined forces with a number of electric cooperatives around the nation to secure a federal grant to fund the installation of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and other smart grid technologies. These systems will help KIUC manage and monitor its grid more efficiently. Since many renewable energy technologies are less predictable than the fossil fuel generators they are replacing, smart grid technology is essential for managing the real-time fluctuations in supply and demand. In addition to helping KIUC meet its renewable goal, AMI will allow the cooperative to provide its members with a variety of new programs and services. The timeline for implementation and the technologies to be used have not been finalized.
KIUC’s diesel-fired generators are capable of burning biodiesel in addition to traditional fossil fuels. The cooperative signed an agreement with Kauai Farm Fuels to purchase biodiesel derived from agricultural byproducts produced on Kauai. This reduces the need to burn imported fossil fuels in KIUC’s traditional power plants.
For more information on KIUC's renewable energy plans, please visit www.kiucrenewablesolutions.coop.