Each year the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative spends tens of millions of dollars for oil to power generators that make electricity for the approximately 60,000 residents and many tourists. When oil prices increase they have no option but to pay even more. Generating their electricity from clean renewable sources makes much sense financially and environmentally.
In January, a 12 megawatt solar project was announced for the island. The project is a joint venture between the island’s utility co-op and Homestead Community Development Corporation. The contract was awarded to REC Solar. Their CEO said, “This coalition demonstrates the innovative spirit and concern for the environment that has made Hawaii home to the nation’s second highest installed solar capacity per capita, and we are excited to move this project forward. Solar is a bankable, proven way to grow KIUCís renewable generation portfolio and meet the energy needs of Hawaii.” (Source: Solar International)
One megawatt is enough to power about 500 – 1,000 homes, depending on demand, so the twelve megawatt project could power about 8,000 homes. If the average home has 3 persons, 12 MW could provide power to about 24,000 people, which is more than one third of the island’s permanent population. When the new solar plant is operational, it will reduce imported oil consumption by almost 12,000 barrels per year. Over its twenty year life, it will prevent the emissions of 567,000,000 pounds of NOx, SOx, and CO2.
The utility coop wants to have fifty percent of the island’s energy from renewable sources by 2023. Tourism is a huge part of the local economy, so preserving the beautiful natural habitats is of paramount importance. In 2007, over one million people visited Kauai.
Image Credit: Caracas1830 / Wiki Commons