County Awards Molokai Solar Projects
County of Maui News Release
Several county facilities on Molokai will soon be outfitted with rooftop solar panels, announced the County of Maui last week. After releasing a Request For Proposals (RFP), the county selected a group of companies led by Hawaii Pacific Solar LLC of Lahaina, Hawaii to install photovoltaic (PV) panels on community facilities around Maui County. The RFP included 18 sites on Molokai and Maui, including fire and police stations, water treatment plants, aquatic centers, community centers and other county facilities.
“We will save taxpayer dollars because our starting price is lower than the MECO [Maui Electric Company] rate,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa. “But just as important is the fact that the County demonstrate to the community how renewable energy can be used in ways that traditional fossil sources cannot.”
On Molokai, the facilities covered by this RFP are Kaunakakai Fire Station, Ho`olehua Fire Station, Mitchell Pau`ole Center and the wastewater treatment facility and pumping station.
This RFP was for the latest phase of the ongoing county solar rooftop PV project. Under the county solar program, the winning bidder pays for the cost of installing the PV and sells the power to the County under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). This arrangement allows a private party to take advantage of available tax credits for solar PV that the county could not use if it purchased panels directly. Through September of 2013, 21 county facilities on Maui and Lanai have been equipped with solar PV.
Hawaii Pacific offered the county a proposal with “price de-escalation.” That means the price the county will pay for the power will drop every year for 20 years by 2.75 percent (from 23.4 cents per kWh in the first year to 13.8 cents per kWh in year 20). Hawaii Pacific was the only bidder to offer declining pricing.
The new RFP also calls for microgrid PV systems, including battery storage, to be installed at up to five of the 18 facilities. A microgrid is a system that can “island” itself and continue to operate if the grid is down. It generally runs connected to MECO, but has its own backup power and in the event the grid goes down the solar panels will be available to power emergency operations.
The County of Maui is considering microgrid solutions for the Kaunakakai Fire Station, War Memorial Complex, Tavares Community Center, the Lahaina Aquatics Center, and the new Kihei
For more information on the award, contact Energy Commissioner Doug Mcleod at 270-7203. For general information on the County’s energy program, visit mauicounty.gov/energy.