Solar farm on 20 acres of Kauai land gets county planning commission approval

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS – A solar farm on 20 acres of Kauai property that will be nearly three times bigger than the state’s largest solar facility has been approved by the county’s planning commission, the Garden Island reported Thursday.

Groundbreaking on the former sugar cane land is expected to happen by the end of the year, with construction beginning in 2012.

“Three thousand tons of carbon dioxide is not going to be released in the air because we are using sunshine instead of fossil fuel,” said David Ushio of Pacific Energy Partners.

Kikiaola Solar in Kekaha will be able to generate an estimated 3.5 megawatts of power, while the largest solar farm in the state generates 1.2 megawatts. The proposed farm will be able to power some 1,000 homes and will be equivalent to planting 2,500 acres of trees annually, Ushio said.

The project, which will cost between $20 million and $30 million, will be built using private-sector financing with help from federal incentives, at no cost to the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, Ushio said.

A bill recently signed by the governor increases, with certain limitations, the areas within agricultural lands in which solar energy facilities may be constructed. Ushio said that means state Land Use Commission approval isn’t needed. “We are grateful the governor signed the bill,” he said. “We would be stuck for another year.”

Area businesses will benefit, said West Kauai Business President David Walker. The project received support from the community during public hearings, said Peter Herndon, CEO of Kikiaola Land, which owns the property.

The farm will spare the island from importing about 7,000 barrels of oil per year, Ushio said.


Information from: The Garden Island,