In an era of high energy costs, relief may be in sight for some residents on Molokai.

Hawaiian Electric and Hoahu Energy Cooperative Molokai announced plans on Thursday to move forward with the state’s first community-owned and -designed solar plus battery energy projects.

Maui locator map

Palaau Solar and Kualapuu Solar will be the first on Molokai to offer the shared solar program to help lower the electric bills of Molokai customers who are unable to install privately owned rooftop solar, according to a news release from Hawaiian Electric.

The projects could meet over 20% of Molokai’s energy needs and serve an estimated 1,500 households on the island, the companies say.

Once negotiations of the 20-year contracts are finalized, Hawaiian Electric and Hoahu will submit the two applications for approval by the Public Utilities Commission.

Molokai resident Todd Yamashita.
Molokai resident Todd Yamashita. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Hoahu Energy Cooperative Molokai is a volunteer, grassroots nonprofit formed in 2020 by Molokai community advocates to enable island residents to design and own renewable energy projects on Molokai.

Palaau Solar could provide up to 2.2 megawatts of solar energy paired with a 10.1 megawatt-hour battery energy storage system. Kualapuu Solar could provide up to 0.25 MW paired with a 1 MWh battery.

“These two projects are the right thing to do for Hawaii and our planet,” said Todd Yamashita, Hoahu’s president. “It will provide access to renewables for those who need it most.”

The projects can help Molokai customers cut their energy costs and further reduce “our carbon footprint in generating power to meet the energy needs of the island,” said Rebecca Dayhuff Matsushima, vice president of resource procurement for Hawaiian Electric.

Civil Beat’s coverage of Maui County is supported in part by grants from the Nuestro Futuro Foundation and the Fred Baldwin Memorial Foundation.

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