Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative achieves 57.9% renewable generation for 2023

The percentage puts the co-op well ahead of the state’s requirement

Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) is once again the state of Hawaii’s leader in renewable generation, achieving 57.9% renewable for 2023. 

In its annual renewable portfolio standards filing to the Hawaiʻi Public Utilities Commission (PUC), KIUC revealed solar contributed 38.1% of its generation in 2023 while almost one-third of the solar production came from members’ rooftop systems. Other renewables contributing in 2023 were hydropower (12%) and biomass (7.8%).

The 57.9% percentage puts the co-op well ahead of the state’s requirement for electric utilities to reach 40% renewable generation by 2030. KIUC’s current strategic goal of reaching 100% renewable by 2033 is also over a decade ahead of the state’s goal to achieve 100% clean energy by 2045.

“In addition to leading the state in renewables, we are proud to have recorded the lowest residential [energy] rates for all the islands since May 2022,” stated KIUC’s president and CEO, David Bissell. “Our high percentage of renewables has contributed significantly to the stabilisation of our rates even during times of significant increases in oil pricing,” he added. 

The co-op was set up in 2002 when Kauaʻi Electric was bought out from Citizens Utilities by a group of local business people. Since the start, it has had a target to achieve 100% renewable power using biomass, hydropower and solar sources.

The co-op is one of the two electric utilities in the state. KIUC’s renewable percentage was higher than every other island in the state in 2023 and has been the highest in the state since 2019.

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The state of Hawaii recognises biomass as a carbon-neutral renewable source of energy and allows utilities to utilise biomass in their renewable portfolio standards compliance.

During 2023 KIUC began using biodiesel to enhance its renewable portfolio. The co-op purchase the power produced by the Mahipapa biomass plant (formerly called “Green Energy Team”) on Kauai via a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA). Approved by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, the agreement requires the operator of the plant to comply with “all valid and applicable federal, state and local laws rules, regulations, orders, permit conditions and other governmental actions,” specifically including any regulations relating to emissions.

“Biodiesel can contribute to grid stability when we’re operating on a high percentage of solar,” said KIUC’s chief of operations, Brad Rockwell. “However, biodiesel is presently more expensive than most other renewable sources, so we’ll use it sparingly and strategically for the time being.”