- Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) will lease 380 acres from the U.S. Department of the Navy at its Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to develop a 50 MW photovoltaic (PV) solar installation the utility may use as Hawaii’s first community solar project, Pacific Business News reports.
- Community solar projects allow the purchase of either a number of modules or a contracted amount of the kWh output from a centralized array. It provides a solar opportunity to individuals or businesses without solar-sufficient roofs or another option to own or lease solar.
- HECO, which will be acquired by NextEra Energy if regulators approve the proposed $4.3 billion deal, will develop a 20 MW phase and then a 30 MW phase. The generation would go to the grid through a HECO-Navy power purchase agreement.
HECO will lease the vacant and agricultural land near roads and transmission lines for up to 37 years, with the option to then renew or decommission the array. It is bordered by farmland, a Navy munitions storage area, and residential communities. The deal, according to HECO, is in a preliminary stage and there is no information yet on a timeline or cost.
Hawaii has not established laws or guidelines for community solar. Clean Energy Collective Vice President Tom Hunt recently named examples to Utility Dive of successful community solar legislation:
- Colorado’s Solar Gardens Act, passed in 2010, which has produced contracts for over 18 MW since 2012, with between 6.5 MW and 30 MW more awaiting approval
- Minnesota’s Community solar gardens bill, passed in 2013, which is similar in structure to Colorado's
- Washington, D.C.’s Community Renewable Energy Act, passed in 2013, also has a structure similar Colorado's and Minnesota's, but is driven by price-volatile SRECs
- Massachusetts’ Virtual Net Metering and SREC programs, which are driving the fastest growth of community solar programs in any state.