The Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) in Hawaii used a combination of renewable resources to generate 90% of the island’s electricity during four periods on separate days in January.
KIUC was founded in 1999, when Citizens Utilities divested from the electric utility business and was joined by a group of business leaders to found the co-operative. Kaua‘i is the fourth largest of the main islands in Hawaii, and the co-op serves 23,300 active member-owners over the island’s 562 square miles.
It uses solar, biomass and hydropower to generate electricity. In January, these renewable resources met an average of 77% of Kaua‘i’s energy demand during the peak solar hours, spiking to 90% on four separate days.
On a typical day, the renewable percentages break down to solar at 62%, biomass at 8% and hydropower at 7%. On an annual basis, renewable resources are now 38% of KIUC’s fuel mix for generating electricity, up from 8% in 2010. The remaining 62% is oil, which fuels the bulk of Kauaʻi’s power generation from 6pm to 10am.
“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 Kaua‘i 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.”
KIUC’s renewable portfolio strategy has seen a 30% reduction in oil consumption from 2010 to 2016, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to well below the 1990 level. The co-operative also plans use renewable resources to generate at least 50 percent of its electricity by 2023 – a target which it is on track to meet by 2019.