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UH West Oʻahu and AES Hawai‘i energy company celebrate launch of new solar project


Hawai‘i Gov. Josh Green speaks at an event at UH West O‘ahu, celebrating the launch of AES Hawai‘i’s West O‘ahu solar-plus-storage project. Image courtesy of UHWO Staff

The University of Hawai‘i–West O‘ahu and AES Hawai‘i celebrated the launch of the company’s West O‘ahu solar-plus-storage project in Kapolei, the company’s first facility to combine solar generation and battery energy storage on O‘ahu.

The two-part celebration on April 9 featured a blessing ceremony at the project site — 66 acres of UH West O‘ahu’s mauka lands adjacent to Makakilo — followed by a reception nearby at UH West O‘ahu’s Academy for Creative Media Student Production Center.

AES Hawai‘i partnered with UH West O‘ahu and Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) for O‘ahu’s newest utility-scale solar project, which is expected to produce enough energy to reduce O‘ahu’s use of fossil fuels by 750,000 barrels of oil and the associated pollution and greenhouse gases emitted over the project’s lifetime.

“This project is one of many we welcome, as we make progress toward the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative, launched in 2008,” said Hawai‘i Gov. Josh Green, who spoke at the event. “We will continue the good work that is underway to make our islands petroleum-independent by the year 2045. Our administration is investing in contractor training programs to build a workforce with the technical expertise to support efforts like this.”

The West O‘ahu solar-plus-storage facility is generating 12.5 megawatts (MW) of clean energy for O‘ahu’s power grid, supported by a 50 megawatt hours (MWh) battery energy storage system, under a 25-year power purchase agreement with HECO at a cost of $0.115 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to an AES Hawai‘i press release.

Grand opening ceremony

The launch celebration featured dignitaries including Green and Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi, as well as leadership and team members with AES Hawai‘i, UH West O‘ahu, and HECO.

UH West O‘ahu Chancellor Maenette Benham, who welcomed and thanked all those in attendance, said, “The University of Hawai‘i–West O‘ahu is the post secondary anchor institution here in West O‘ahu. We have an extremely important role in our partnerships with businesses, our K-12 schools, and many of our community organizations, and it’s absolutely fabulous that we have an opportunity to celebrate with our partners such a successful accomplishment.”

The new project is key to the future of the UH West O‘ahu, as it is supporting the university’s 2035 net-zero energy goals, providing a revenue stream to support higher education, and emphasizing the importance for students to embrace a clean energy future.

AES Executive Vice President and President, Global Renewables, Bernerd Da Santos, who provided closing remarks, said the West O‘ahu project epitomizes AES Hawai‘i’s commitment to collaborate with community partners for the benefit of Hawai‘i’s long-term energy future.

“This is a momentous day for AES Hawai‘i as it is our first solar and storage project on O‘ahu and one that is providing a multitude of benefits over many years that extends far beyond the low-cost, clean energy we are generating for the people of O‘ahu,” Da Santos said. “We are partnering with a premier educational institution in the University of Hawai‘i–West O‘ahu, helping to reduce Hawai‘i’s dependence on imported oil and utilizing the land to support the island’s agricultural needs.”

AES Hawai‘i is part of the AES Corporation, a Fortune 500 global energy company. In support of Hawai‘i’s 100% renewable energy goal of 2045, AES Hawai‘i is accelerating its commitment to a greener energy future with 12 renewable projects currently in progress throughout the state, more than any other renewable energy developer.

Following the ceremony, guests were invited into the ACM Student Production Center to visit the AES Hawai‘i Observation Deck on the second floor to learn more about the project, and explore the Interactive Energy Map in the center’s CreateX room.

To see photos from the event, visit the AES Hawai‘i West O‘ahu Solar + Storage Grand Opening Ceremony album on Flickr.