KIUC gets go-ahead for 25-MW Hawaiian pumped-storage proposal

Hawaii’s Board of Land and Natural Resources has given its unanimous approval in principal to the Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) for a 25 MW pumped-storage hydropower project on the island’s west side.

KIUC now has permission to perform feasibility, engineering and geotechnical work on state land and the Pu’u Lua Resorvoir. The utility said the approval is the first of a number of state authorizations it must receive for the project, including Conservation District Use Permits.

Additionally, KIUC will have to complete an environmental assessment, and coordinate separate lease agreement for the water the proposed plant will use and with the state Agribusiness Development Corp. (ADC) for land on the Mana Plain on which the lower reservoir would be constructed.

“KIUC will work with water users and land owners below Pu’u Lua to help ensure that their irrigation and other needs are addressed,” the utility said in a statement. “These include ADC, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Kekaha Agricultural Associaiton and others.”

The project is expected to cost between US$55 million and $65 million and could be completed by 2019.

KIUC said the plant is intended to help generate power in times of peak demand at night by storing solar energy captured during the day.

The utility expressed interest in pursuing the pumped-storage project in July, saying the cost of power generated by the plant would be about 35% less than the cost of oil. reported in August that another company, Paniolo Power Co. LLC, is also considering the construction of a pumped-storage project within the state. Paniolo Power’s proposal would be located on Parker Ranch on the island of Hawaii.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for

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