Hawaiian Electric selects developer for largest utility-scale solar project, first shared solar program on Lanai

Release Date: 4/28/2022

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LANAI, April 28, 2022 – Hawaiian Electric has selected Onyx Development Group LLC, the development arm of Onyx Renewable Partners L.P., to build and maintain Mikiola Solar, the largest utility-scale renewable energy project on Lanai and the island’s first to offer the shared solar program (also known as community-based renewable energy or CBRE). The new project could also meet a majority of the current energy demands of the island.

Onyx was selected after a competitive bidding evaluation of customer savings, completion timelines and non-price factors including community outreach. The project could provide up to 17.6 megawatts of solar energy with 3 MW reserved for the shared solar program, paired with a 73 megawatt-hour battery energy storage system. The project will be sited on 73 acres of land owned by Pulama Lanai, adjacent to Hawaiian Electric’s Miki Basin facilities along Miki Road, and is expected to come online in late 2024.

The shared solar program provides a way for customers, including renters, apartment residents, small business owners and organizations unable to install privately-owned rooftop solar to benefit from solar electricity generated on their island.

“The opportunity to work with Hawaiian Electric and the residents of Lanai to decarbonize the grid through this project is important to our future and the next generation,” said Mary Beth Mandanas, chief executive officer of Onyx. “We appreciate the social and environmental impact our company can make and are excited to begin working on this inaugural community-based renewable project on Lanai.”

Hawaiian Electric will now enter contract negotiations with Onyx. Once the 20-year contract is finalized, it will be submitted to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for approval.

“We are excited to secure a partnership with Onyx to power Lanai with such large-scale solar energy and provide all of our Lanai customers with more opportunities to benefit from renewable energy,” said Rebecca Dayhuff Matsushima, vice president of resource procurement for Hawaiian Electric. “This is a major step in transitioning Lanai away from the price volatility of imported fossil fuels and taking action on climate change.”

Approved by the PUC in November 2021, the shared solar Phase 2 request for proposals for Lanai was opened for developers, companies, organizations or groups authorized to do business in Hawaii to become a “subscriber organization” to propose a shared solar project.

Once Onyx, as the subscriber organization proposing the shared solar facility, is approved by the PUC, Lanai customers may become “subscribers” to that facility by applying directly to the subscriber organization or through Hawaiian Electric’s online customer portal. Once the project is built and online, subscribers receive credits on their monthly electricity bill based on a monthly lump sum payment, which is based on availability of the project and their level of participation.

Development of the CBRE RFP involved participation from the Lanai communities and stakeholders. This included community meetings where Hawaiian Electric explained the process and provided opportunities for residents to submit oral and written comments and concerns for developers to be aware of when preparing their proposals. Feedback from Lanai residents through community outreach efforts has also been incorporated in the plans, including limiting the type of renewable technologies being sought and recognizing each island’s unique culture and concerns.

Onyx Development Group LLC is the development arm of Onyx Renewable Partners L.P., a leading clean energy ecosystem provider headquartered in New York City. The Onyx team is made up of highly experienced professionals with deep industry knowledge, having collectively developed or constructed over 11 gigawatts of renewable projects in the United States, including a large-scale solar and battery system in Kapalua, Maui. For more information on the Mikiola Solar project, go to www.mikiolasolar.com.