Kauai Pursues Biomass and Wind Power and Solar Water Heating

May 17, 2006

Hawaii has abundant renewable energy resources and no fossil fuel resources, and that latter fact has left the state largely dependent on expensive fuel imports delivered by ship. Fortunately, Hawaii's utilities are expressing a growing interest in renewable energy sources to meet their needs. The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) is a case in point: the utility is currently working with three companies to develop renewable energy power plants on the island. Green Energy Hawaii will develop a 7.5-megawatt "closed loop" biomass power plant, using a dedicated supply of woodchips and other biomass grown on a local tree farm. The plant will gasify the biomass and use the hot gas to power a turbine. In addition, Cleaves & Company will relocate a 4.5-megawatt biomass plant from California to Kauai. The plant will be fueled with California walnut shells at first, but the company plans to develop local biomass sources. Finally, UPC Kauai Wind Power, LLC will develop a 10.5- to 15-megawatt wind power plant. See the KIUC press releases on the contracts with Green Energy Hawaii (PDF 481 KB), Cleaves & Company (PDF 483 KB), and UPC Kauai Wind Power (PDF 304 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

The utility is also encouraging its customers to employ renewable energy through a solar water heating incentive program. In addition to rebates and a state tax incentive, the utility has teamed up with a credit union and a housing agency to offer no-interest loans on solar water heating systems. See the KIUC press release (PDF 482 KB).