KIUC hits renewable technology goals by using technology to help the membership


A member-owned cooperative, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative looks out for our community.

KIUC’s strategic plan calls for the cooperative to use renewable resources to generate at least 50 percent of its electricity by 2023. The cooperative is on track to reach that goal by 2019.

The plan also calls for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This year, KIUC’s power plant emissions levels will fall below 1990 levels, the benchmark used by many countries in establishing reduction targets.

KIUC is able to accomplish this by turning down or turning off the oil-fired generators it uses to make electricity. For several hours on clear, sunny days, KIUC is using renewable resources to produce 90 percent of the island’s electricity, with only 10 percent coming from oil-fired generators.

KIUC is hitting that goal by using a combination of solar, biomass and hydroelectricity. With the number of rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems online in addition to the Koloa and Anahola solar arrays, and Kauai’s sunny summer months, KIUC may have more days with the majority of its power coming from the sun. On an average clear day, KIUC is able to shut down its Port Allen Generating Station for up to six hours, saving more than a million gallons of fuel a year.

Coming later this year is an innovative solar array and battery storage project to be built by SolarCity. The array will charge a Tesla Powerpack lithium-ion battery system during the day. Then, after the sun goes down, the battery will feed energy onto the grid for five hours, reducing the amount of conventional power generation needed to meet peak demand. By using the solar energy stored in the battery instead of diesel generators, KIUC will reduce its use of imported fossil fuels and also cut its greenhouse gas emissions.

This project is believed to be the first utility-scale system in the U.S. to provide dispatchable solar energy, meaning that the utility can count on electricity being available when it’s needed, even hours after sunset.

KIUC is also looking into other renewable projects, like a pumped storage system on the Westside that would use excess daytime solar energy to pump water uphill, then release it at night to create hydroelectricity. This project would potentially help to upgrade the existing irrigation and reservoir systems on the Westside that have been in place since the plantation days.

A planned Gay & Robinson hydroelectric project would also add to Kauai’s renewable resources and sell power to KIUC. This project would be the first new utility-scale hydroelectric plant to be built on Kauai in more than 80 years and would reduce KIUC’s oil consumption by 1.4 million gallons a year.

In addition to these renewable projects, KIUC is offering members more ways to access their account information and added new choices for paying their bills.