West Maui Organization Secures Community Benefits Agreement With Proposed Solar Project | News, Sports, Jobs


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WEST MAUI – The West Maui Preservation Association (WMPA) has reached an agreement with the company proposing a 220-acre solar project in Kahana and will withdraw from Public Utilities Commission (PUC) proceedings relating to the system.

Kahana Solar LLC of Innergex Renewable Development USA LLC is proposing to build a 20 megawatt solar photovoltaic system and an 80 megawatt-hour battery energy storage system on private land 1.4 thousand mauka from Kapalua Airport and from the nearest residential community.

If approved, Kahana Solar plans to complete construction and begin operations by the end of 2023.

According to the developer, the project will provide West Maui with stored renewable energy production and improve grid stability, as well as enough electricity to power the equivalent of 11,600 homes.

On September 14 and 15, the PUC held an evidentiary hearing on Kahana Solar’s Project Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Maui Electric Company.

Representatives of all parties and participants involved – Kahana Solar LLC, Maui Electric, Consumer Advocate, and West Maui Preservation Association – had the opportunity to ask questions about the previously submitted documentation and make oral arguments.

At the end of the hearing, the PUC took the unprecedented decision to stay the proceedings and order the parties to enter into mediation.

The parties negotiated with the help of retired Maui Circuit Court Judge Joel August.

An agreement was reached with Kahana Solar committing to provide $ 1.375 million in community donations over the 25 years of the project. This equates to $ 55,000 per year during the commercial operations of the project.

The funding will support:

1) Friends of Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve through the Living Pono project as part of supporting environmental stewardship, preserving the natural and cultural resources of the reserve and protecting a spring. vital water for the Maui community.

2) Education and training at Lahainaluna High School (directly or through the Lahainaluna High School Foundation) and / or the University of Hawaii Maui College to advance training in renewable energy and environmental stewardship. Innergex will also serve as an educational resource to inspire students to explore career paths in the field of energy or sustainability.

3) West Maui cultural programs including Maui Cultural Lands Honokowai Valley Project and Napili Kai Foundation Youth Program.

4) West Maui events and organizations will be administered by the Hawaii Community Foundation as part of an annual grant program that aligns with Innergex’s core values ​​of long-term sustainability.

5) Memberships and sponsorships of events and programs identified by Innergex that take place throughout the year in West Maui.

Kahana Solar added that West Maui Ridge 2 Reef and CORAL Reef Alliance have provided advice on reducing stormwater runoff at the solar project site. This has led to the incorporation of design techniques that minimize the project’s landscape impacts.

The WMPA noted that Kahana Solar has also agreed to pay at least 80 percent of its non-supervisory workers the equivalent of going wages, as well as to hire people first who live in West Maui, County Maui. and in the state before hiring workers from elsewhere. The settlement also requires Kahana Solar to commit to a binding plan to decommission the project upon termination of its agreement with Maui Electric.

If the PUC approves the agreement between Maui Electric and Innergex, the project will then be submitted to the Maui Planning Commission to review a special use permit required to develop the project on land in the agricultural district.

“We hope that the power company and PUC will seriously consider standardizing the management and distribution of community benefits and ensuring that the jobs generated by these projects pay a living wage and use local labor for the projects. future. This agreement is a good starting point for future projects ”, said Lance D. Collins, spokesperson for the WMPA.

Innergex designed the project when it responded to a competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) issued by Maui Electric in 2019 for renewable energy projects.

“The State of Hawaii’s renewable energy mandate is to achieve a 100% renewable portfolio standard by 2045. The primary benefit of the Kahana Solar Project for the community is the contribution it will make to the community. achievement of the 100% renewable energy target. Utility-scale solar projects like Kahana Solar benefit all of Maui Electric’s grid-connected customers, not just those who can afford a solar installation. The project’s solar storage plus price is among the lowest to date for renewables in the state and is cheaper than the cost of traditional fossil fuel production. This will help reduce Hawaii’s overreliance on oil and its vulnerability to oil price volatility ”, The Kahana solar project team noted in an Oct. 15 press release.

Innergex is an independent producer of renewable energy that develops, acquires, owns and operates hydroelectric facilities, wind farms and solar parks. It operates in Canada, the United States, France and Chile.

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