Hawaii’s only electric cooperative has announced plans to build the largest photovoltaic project in the state, as it pursues its goal of using renewables to meet half of its electricity demand.
Kauai Island Utility Cooperative wants to develop 10 megawatts of solar generation capacity. The Lihue-based co-op is seeking approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service to reallocate financing previously approved for a fossil fuel project.
“KIUC is following a model employed by other electric cooperatives, to use a subsidiary to qualify for tax incentives only available to for-profit companies,” said David Bissell, co-op president. The co-op has created KIUC Renewable Solutions One, LLC, a for-profit subsidiary, to qualify for state and federal incentives that could cover as much as 50 percent of the solar-related costs of the project.
“We will combine the tax credits, our own low-cost financing, and the declining cost of solar photovoltaic systems to produce energy at significantly less than the cost of power generated from oil,” said Bissell. He added that once completed, the project should produce power at lower rates than are currently available to the co-op through recently signed power-purchase agreements.