Maui News

Lānaʻi’s first and large shared solar project moves forward with selection of developer

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Site layout of the planned Mikiola Solar, a project on Lānaʻi that will be built on 73 acres of land owned by Pūlama Lāna‘i and adjacent to Hawaiian Electric’s Miki Basin facilities along Miki Road. Site plan courtesy: Hawaiian Electric

Hawaiian Electric has selected Onyx Development Group to build and maintain Mikiola Solar, which will be the largest utility-scale renewable energy project on Lāna‘i and the first to offer the shared solar program to the community.

The new community-based renewable energy (CBRE) project is expected to meet a majority of the current energy demands of the island. The target date to come online is late 2024.

Onyx Development Group, the development arm of Onyx Renewable Partners, was selected after a competitive bidding evaluation of customer savings, completion timelines and non-price factors including community outreach.

The project could provide up to 17.6 megawatts of solar energy with 3 MW reserved for the shared solar program, paired with a 73 megawatt-hour battery energy storage system, according to a news release from Hawaiian Electric.

The project will be built on 73 acres of land owned by Pūlama Lāna‘i, adjacent to Hawaiian Electric’s Miki Basin facilities along Miki Road.

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New York-based Onyx has developed or constructed more than 11 gigawatts of renewable projects in the United States, including a large-scale solar and battery system in Kapalua on Maui.

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The shared solar program provides a way for customers, including renters, apartment residents, small business owners and organizations unable to install privately-owned rooftop solar to benefit from solar electricity generated on their island.

“The opportunity to work with Hawaiian Electric and the residents of Lāna‘i to decarbonize the grid through this project is important to our future and the next generation,” said Mary Beth Mandanas, chief executive officer of Onyx. “We appreciate the social and environmental impact our company can make and are excited to begin working on this inaugural community-based renewable project on Lāna‘i.”

Hawaiian Electric will now enter contract negotiations with Onyx. Once the 20-year contract is finalized, it will be submitted to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for approval.

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“This is a major step in transitioning Lāna‘i away from the price volatility of imported fossil fuels and taking action on climate change,” said Rebecca Dayhuff Matsushima, vice president of resource procurement for Hawaiian Electric.

Approved by the PUC in November 2021, the shared solar Phase 2 request for proposals for Lāna‘i was opened for developers, companies, organizations or groups authorized to do business in Hawai‘i to become a “subscriber organization” to propose a shared solar project.

Once Onyx, as the subscriber organization proposing the shared solar facility, is approved by the PUC, Lāna‘i customers may become “subscribers” to that facility by applying directly to the subscriber organization or through Hawaiian Electric’s online customer portal.

Once the project is built and online, subscribers receive credits on their monthly electricity bill based on a monthly lump sum payment, which is based on availability of the project and their level of participation.

Development of the request for proposals for the project involved participation from the Lāna‘i communities and stakeholders. This included community meetings where Hawaiian Electric explained the process and provided opportunities for residents to submit oral and written comments and concerns for developers to be aware of when preparing their proposals.

Feedback from Lāna‘i residents through community outreach efforts also has been incorporated in the plans, including limiting the type of renewable technologies being sought and recognizing each island’s unique culture and concerns.

For more information on the Mikiola Solar project, go to mikiolasolar.com.

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