Hawaiian firm Kaua?i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) has announced it is looking to develop a pumped storage system on the island, and has also approved an agreement to buy power from a new hydropower plant.

KIUC is pursuing the pumped storage system on state land on Kaua?i’s west side in a bid to meet about 13% of Kaua?i’s annual energy demand. The company has obtained access to two potential sites from the state Agribusiness Development Corp. (ADC), the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, enabling the cooperative to conduct detailed technical studies.
Meanwhile, the company’s board of directors unanimously approved a tentative agreement to buy power from a new hydroelectric facility to be built by Gay & Robinson, Inc. (G&R) on the Olokele Ditch.

The new 6MW plant would be built below its existing 1.3MW plant on the Olokele Ditch.

The terms of the proposed contract between KIUC and Gay & Robinson are confidential and subject to approval by the Public Utilities Commission. G & R hopes to have the new system operational by 2019.

“KIUC is very pleased to be working with G & R on the first new, large-scale hydropower plant built on Kaua?i in 80 years," said David Bissell, president and CEO of KIUC. "With this agreement, we’re nearly at our strategic goal of using renewables to generate 50% of our energy and well ahead of the 2023 deadline we set.

“This project will reduce our oil consumption by about 1.4 million gallons per year and further insulate Kaua?i’s energy supply from the volatile world market."

KIUC currently purchases electricity from the existing G & R hydro plant, which was built in 1920 to supply power to the plantation. When completed, the two G & R hydropower projects would produce 5% of the electricity consumed annually on Kaua?i.

“As a kama?aina company in business for 150 years, we are proud to use our resources to help make Kaua?i energy independent and sustainable," said Charles Okamoto, president and CEO of G & R. "We believe this is an important investment in our island’s future and are pleased to help our cooperative reach its renewable energy targets."