A new platform for cheaper electricity on Maui

HONOLULU (KHON2) — AES Hawai‘i has broken ground on Kūihelani Solar-plus-Storage, the largest solar facility in Hawaii located on 450 acres in downtown Maui.

This project generates enough energy for 27,000 homes at a cost of just 8 cents per kilowatt hour, the lowest cost of renewable energy in the state.

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The facility produces 60 megawatts (MW) of energy, powered by a 240 megawatt-hour (MWh) battery system. This meets 15% of Maui’s energy needs.

AES Hawai’i has a 25-year contract with Hawaiian Electric. The campaign began on May 31 to provide society with cheap, clean energy.

The project helps reduce the need to import two million barrels of oil.

Sandra Larsen, president of AES Hawai’i, emphasized that this is their first major solar project on Maui and supports Hawaii’s goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045.

“Kūihelani Solar-plus-Storage is an example of how we can power our future when we combine exceptional renewable energy design with community-minded partners to provide the services essential to living and working in Hawaii,” Larsen said.

The project began in July 2022 and faced challenges but succeeded in generating much-needed clean energy for Maui.

“In July 2022, we broke ground, overcame supply chain logistics challenges, and are now producing much-needed clean energy for Maui’s power grid,” Larsen added.

She has received strong support from Maui County, Hawaiian Electric and the community.

The facility benefits Maui families and businesses by providing reliable, low-cost energy for the next 25 years.

Colton Ching, senior vice president of planning and technology for Hawaiian Electric, emphasized that this project is a big step toward achieving Hawaii’s renewable energy goals by reducing fossil fuel use and ensuring Maui’s energy security.

“With this project, our state is taking another significant step toward achieving our renewable energy goals,” Ching said. “Adding both renewable energy and energy storage will help reduce fossil fuel use, protect us from the impacts of climate change, and ensure reliable service and energy security for Maui.”

Additionally, AES Hawai‘i partners with Ho‘oulu ‘Āina Farms to graze sheep on land that supports local agriculture.

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The construction and operation of Kūihelani Solar-plus-Storage created nearly 300 jobs and boosted Maui’s economy by $68 million.