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Molokai Clean Energy Updates

I Aloha Molokai News Release

On Wednesday, May 27, I Aloha Molokai (IAM) reconvened a meeting of the partners that make-up the Molokai Clean Energy Initiative (MCEI).  This meeting was held at the request of those members of the MCEI that are involved in the Ikehu Molokai project being presented by Molokai Ranch and Princeton Energy.

The three-hour MCEI meeting included presentations by Cal Kobayashi and Tina Rasmussen from the County of Maui energy department, Steven Rymsha of MECO and Steve Tabor of Princeton Energy.  The presentations were followed by a lively discussion of all energy concepts offered for review.

The Princeton Energy presentation included its newest plan to construct a solar farm on Molokai Ranch property adjacent to the MECO power plant.  The proposal also includes the installation of a six megawatt battery that could store the generated power that would then be wholesaled to MECO.  MECO has yet to enter an agreement for this solar farm and battery as the engineering aspects of the project have not been submitted by Princeton.

The interesting aspect of the Ikehu Project is that it must be completed within the next 18 months in order for Princeton to qualify for a 30 percent tax credit for the project.  It was clear by the end of the MCEI meeting that if Princeton cannot gain community support to exert pressure on MECO or others to allow MECO to avoid the public Request for Proposal (RFP) process and contract with Princeton directly, the 2016 tax credit discount would likely be missed, and without the tax credit, Princeton will abandon this project.  IAM finds this fact interesting.

MECO’s representative outlined that the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) 2 megawatt battery is still online to be delivered to Molokai to help MECO and HNEI gather the necessary information about how a battery might help to correct the current inequities within the Molokai generation plant.  Based on the information gathered, MECO is online to equip Molokai with the appropriate battery storage in 2018.

In light of all the information gathered at the MCEI meeting, IAM remains in support of the HNEI/MECO partnership to bring the 2 megawatt battery to the Molokai power plant and complete the research necessary to determine just what type of battery is right for our power needs.  We believe that the Princeton Energy project is premature and therefore reserve our support for the solar farm.  IAM will continue to monitor the Ikehu project and will intervene in any upcoming Public Utilities Commission dockets that address this solar farm/battery project.  As always, it is the goal of IAM to keep projects open and transparent.

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