More Big Solar Coming to Hawaii!


First Wind and Hawaiian Electric Company announced plans for a 20 MW solar PV energy facility near Mililani, Oahu. The project is expected to provide enough clean energy to power about 6,000 Oahu homes.

Solar permits in Hawaii are down from last year. Yet while it’s become tougher to install smaller projects there, some large ones are being planned in the state. 

Today, independent renewable energy company First Wind and Hawaiian Electric Company announced they’ve filed a request with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission to provide energy to the Oahu grid from a planned 20 MW (AC) solar PV energy facility near Mililani, Oahu. The  power will be provided under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA).


First Wind was selected by landowner Castle & Cooke Hawaii to develop the Mililani Solar Farm on 135 acres of Castle & Cooke land south of Mililani. Previously, the same site was designed as four separate 5 MW solar projects by four different developers. Consolidating to a single 20 MW project enabled the project to be developed more efficiently and the energy to be delivered at a lower price. And that’s likely what’s driving a lot of larger projects in Hawaii, as we’ve been seeing in many states around the country.


The planned project will be able to provide enough clean energy to power about 6,000 Oahu homes. Over the term of the contract, the installation will save ratepayers up to $67 million. It will also displace up to 87,000 barrels of oil per year. Power will be sold to Hawaiian Electric at 15.6 cents per kWh, significantly less than Hawaiian Electric’s recent cost of generating power of 23.3 cents per kWh.


The project is the first in Hawaii to be developed by First Wind’s new solar division, First Wind Solar Group, which was established to explore solar energy opportunities near the company’s wind projects in Hawaii, the Northeast, and the West. First Wind Solar Group is planning to build three major solar farms on Oahu, for a total of 82 MW.


“We are excited to expand our renewable energy efforts with the introduction of Mililani Solar, which will be Hawaii’s largest photovoltaic farm to date,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. “This is a milestone for First Wind as we look for new ways to turn Hawaii’s abundant natural resources into affordable clean energy for the islands’ electrical grids. We look forward to working closely with local communities, the utility, the city and the state as we install this important renewable energy facility.”


The PPA with Hawaiian Electric for the Mililani Solar project supports a mandate set by the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) to generate 70% of Hawaii’s energy through conservation and clean energy sources by 2030, and reduce Hawaii’s reliance on imported fossil fuel.


“We are pleased to be working with First Wind Solar Group to create the largest solar PV project on Oahu to date; to provide more renewable energy for Oahu,” said Harry Saunders, president of Castle & Cooke Homes Hawaii. “The Mililani Solar project is another investment in Hawaii and its communities by Castle & Cooke, furthering our land use diversification and mission of providing for the needs of Hawaii.”