Paeahu Solar was proposed five years ago but faced opposition from local residents.

A proposed solar project located mauka of South Kihei’s Maui Meadows neighborhood is no longer happening.

Hawaiian Electric and Canadian developer Innergex Energy have nixxed plans to build a 15-megawatt solar farm with a 60-megawatt-hour battery storage system capable of powering about 6,900 Maui households.

The companies cited “lengthy delays resulting from the developer’s legal challenges and pandemic-related cost and supply-chain issues” in a news release Tuesday.

Only one of five major solar project planned for Maui in the past five years is still moving forward. (Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat/2019)

The Paeahu Solar project was first proposed in 2018. The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission approved a power purchase agreement between Paeahu and Maui Electric Co. in October 2020.

The project faced stiff opposition from environmentalists and some Maui Meadows residents.

Besides the potential risks of water pollution, flooding and wildfires sparked by transmission lines, project opponents also raised concerns about glare from solar panels, loss of open, scenic land, noise and dust impacts, the use of herbicides for vegetation management and “spiritual impacts from destruction of land,” according to court papers.

Pono Power Coalition unsuccessfully appealed the PUC’s decision to approve the project to the Hawaii Supreme Court.

A court majority found that the group failed to provide sufficient convincing evidence.

“It’s unfortunate we aren’t able to move forward with Paeahu Solar, which was a key component of Hawaiian Electric’s effort to retire fossil fuel generators on Maui, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stabilize customer costs,” said Mike DeCaprio, vice president of power supply for Hawaiian Electric.

DeCaprio said Maui is facing critical deadlines for bringing on new resources by decade’s end.

“The loss of Paeahu and other projects is concerning,” he said.

Hawaiian Electric must retire its Kahului power plant by 2028 to meet environmental regulations. The unavailability of replacement parts for units at the Maalaea power plant has also created uncertainty about its future past 2030.

Of five solar and energy storage projects approved by the PUC for Maui over the past five years,
only one is being built — the AES Corp.’s 60-megawatt Kuihelani project, according to the news release. Four power purchase agreements, including the one for Paeahu Solar, have been terminated.

“Innergex is grateful to the many residents, partners, businesses, and community organizations who supported our efforts to bring new solar power resources to Maui,” said Ed Maddox, Innergex senior director of development, in the release.

The company will continue to pursue opportunities to add renewable energy projects to the grid in Hawaii, he said.

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