(AP) — The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission has cleared the way for a large-scare renewable energy project on Molokai.

The commission approved a power purchase agreement Monday for the island’s first grid-scale solar and battery energy storage project, which aims to lower electric costs for customers and make up nearly half of Molokai’s renewable energy production.

Molokai New Energy Partners will own and operate the facility that will be built on vacant industrial land leased from Molokai Ranch. The facility will sell electricity to the Maui Electric Company, which has 3,200 customers on the island..

East Molokai clouds Hawaii2. 14 july 2016
The project is expected to make up nearly half of Molokai’s renewable energy production. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The project will include 4.88 megawatts of solar panels. Its battery system will store energy and discharge up to 2.6 megawatts during peak hours.

“Molokai New Energy Partners is very pleased with the recent decision by the PUC regarding our solar and battery storage project,” said Charles Magolske, the company’s executive vice president of corporate development. “We look forward to progressing the construction of this project and bringing lower cost clean solar power to Molokai.”

The Maui Electric Company expects the project to be up and running by the end of 2019. The power purchase agreement is for 22 years.

“As this solar and battery project moves forward, we recognize there is still much to be done in our efforts to reach 100 percent renewable energy on Molokai,” said Sharon Suzuki, president of Maui Electric.

She added: “We’ll be seeking more affordable renewables to power the island and look forward to continue working with the Molokai community, policy makers and renewable energy developers to achieve this ambitious goal.”

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