Kauai utility on track to exceed renewables goal

Honolulu Star – February 5, 2016 – (RealEstateRama) — Kauai Island Utility Cooperative announced Wednesday that the island’s renewable resources met around 90 percent of customers’ electricity demand on four days in January.

In the early afternoon on Jan. 13, Jan. 16, Jan. 17 and Jan. 18, KIUC’s renewable-energy generation from solar, biomass and hydroelectricity spiked to meet 90 percent of the island’s electrical demand for 61 minutes, 34 minutes, 34 minutes, and 5 minutes, respectively.

“In five years we’ve gone from being a place that’s almost totally dependent on imported oil for power generation to a place that is an industry leader in its adoption of renewable energy,” said David Bissell, president and CEO of KIUC. “That a small co-op on Kauai can become a world and national leader in energy transformation in such a brief time is something all of our members can be proud of and celebrate.”

Hawaiian Electric Co., the largest electric utility in the state, said 42 percent of Oahu’s electrical demand in May was met by renewable-energy resources, 68 percent of Hawaii island’s electrical demand in December was satisfied by renewable resources and 89 percent of Maui’s electrical demand in April was met by renewable resources.

HECO said on Maui renewable resources generated more than 80 percent of the island’s electrical needs on 1,330 separate occasions in 2015.

Rep. Chris Lee (D-Kailua, Waimanalo) praised KIUC for being a leader in renewable-energy adoption.

“KIUC has been a national leader in the switch to cost-saving renewables,” Lee said.

KIUC said no other utility in the U.S. has a higher percentage of large-scale solar on its grid than the cooperative. On a typical day on Kauai, the renewable breakdown is 62 percent solar, 8 percent biomass and 7 percent hydroelectric.

Marti Townsend, director of Sierra Club of Hawaii, said the announcement is an example of what can be done at a publicly owned electric utility.

“That’s great news,” Townsend said. “It demonstrates how much progress is attainable by smaller, ratepayer-controlled utilities that focus on the public interest instead of shareholders.”

Richard Wallsgrove, program director for Blue Planet Foundation, said KIUC hitting 90 percent energy production from renewables, even momentarily, is an extraordinary accomplishment.

“It proves what we can do,” Wallsgrove said. “It’s all the more extraordinary considering all storage and demand response tools we are not using in Hawaii. That’s the next step, so we can stretch that period out longer and longer. It’s time for the other islands to catch up.”

Renewable resources make up 38 percent of KIUC’s fuel mix annually. The remaining 62 percent is oil. Oil fuels the bulk of Kauai’s power generation from 6 p.m. to 10 a.m.

In January, KIUC connected the Green Energy Team biomass plant near Koloa to the grid. The plant delivers 6.7 megawatts of electricity to the grid. The biomass plant burns wood chips to generate energy. Under a 20-year contract with KIUC, Green Energy will supply about 12 percent of Kauai’s electricity annually.

KIUC’s strategic plan calls for the cooperative to use renewable resources to generate at least 50 percent of its electricity by 2023. The cooperative is now on track to hit that target by 2019, KIUC said.

http://www.staradvertiser.com/business/kauai-utility-on-track-to-exceed-renewables-goal/ Kauai utility on track to exceed renewables goal 2/4/16 Kathryn Mykleseth

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