Hawaiʻi Island – Puakō

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Harnessing the power of the sun on Hawaiʻi Island

ENGIE Hawaiʻi’s proposed photovoltaic and energy storage project on Hawaiʻi Island will generate clean, sustainable, affordable electricity from sunlight. In May 2020, Hawaiian Electric selected the project to move forward.

This project, proposed for the Puakō area, has the capability to displace tens of thousands of barrels of imported oil every year. The project will supply lower cost electricity to Hawaiian Electric, and help Hawai‘i Island come closer to achieving its 2045 mandates of carbon neutrality and 100% renewable energy on the grid.

Every year, this project will produce 206 gigawatt / hours of clean energy, enough to power 36,000 average Hawaiʻi Island households. The electricity produced by this project will avoid 144,000 tons of carbon emissions that would have been produced making the same amount of electricity with fossil fuels – it’s like taking 32,000 cars off the road.

infographic: Powering 36,000 (house icon) average Hawaiʻi Island households, = 32,000 (car icon) taken off the road

ENGIE Hawaiʻi’s team brings together the global project development expertise of ENGIE, the world’s leader in cost effective zero-carbon transition solutions, with over a decade of local understanding of Hawaiʻi’s community and unique challenges. This global-local approach results in world-class projects that move Hawaiʻi forward.

Solar + storage = savings

New Peak Load Management Challenge diagram

The on-site energy storage battery system that will be part of the Puakō project is designed to capture and store electricity and discharge it at a time of day it is needed most, allowing the delivery of affordable, clean energy to Hawaiʻi Island customers around the clock.

Why was this project proposed?

ENGIE Hawai‘i is one of several companies who proposed clean energy projects to Hawaiian Electric as part of an effort to bring more clean, affordable energy to customers. In May 2020, Hawaiian Electric selected the project to move forward. We will continue to engage the community as we go through the regulatory process to receive permission to build.


Project Summary & Community Outreach Plan

Proposer Name ENGIE Development LLC
Parent Company ENGIE SA
Project Name Puakō Solar PV + Battery Storage
Net AC Capacity 60 MW of PV generation with 240 MWh of storage capacity
Proposed Facility Location Ma uka of Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway near Puakō. Ahupuaʻa Puakō, Waikoloa, and / or Waimea (dependent upon final project design). Moku Kohala.
TMK of Facility Location 3-6-8-001-024
Point of Interconnection’s Circuit or Substation Name There are two independent 69 kV transmission lines: a 69 kV Hawai‘i Electric Light line from the new Puakō switching station to the existing Mauna Lani Switching Station and 69 kV Hawai‘i Electric Light line from Puakō to ʻAnaehoʻomalu Switching Station. The project will have (2) POIs thus the allowed Capacity of the Project (2x30MW) for each POI is within the threshold requirement for a single point of failure (i.e. 30MW), thus fulfilling the requirement of no single point of failure results in a loss of more than 30MW.
Project Description

ENGIE Hawaiʻi’s proposed photovoltaic and energy storage project on Hawaiʻi Island will generate clean, sustainable, affordable electricity from sunlight.

This project, in the Puakō area, has the capability to displace tens of thousands of barrels of imported oil every year. The project will supply lower cost electricity to Hawaiian Electric, and help Hawai‘i Island come closer to achieving its 2045 mandates of carbon neutrality and 100% renewable energy on the grid.

ENGIE Hawaiʻi’s team brings together the global project development expertise of ENGIE, the world’s leader in cost effective zero-carbon transition solutions, with over a decade of local understanding of Hawaiʻi’s community and unique challenges. This global-local approach results in world-class projects that move Hawaiʻi forward.

Project Site Map Hawaiʻi Island - Puakō - Project Area

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The shaded area indicates the general project location, representing an area larger than the footprint of the project. The project will be within the shaded area.

Site Layout Plan 3D rendering of the Puakō solar site

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3D rendering of the Puakō solar site

Interconnection Route

There are two independent 69 kV transmission lines: a 69 kV Hawai‘i Electric Light line from the new Puakō switching station to the existing Mauna Lani Switching Station and 69 kV Hawai‘i Electric Light line from Puakō to ʻAnaehoʻomalu Switching Station. The project will have (2) POIs thus the allowed Capacity of the Project (2x30MW) for each POI is within the threshold requirement for a single point of failure (i.e. 30MW), thus fulfilling the requirement of no single point of failure results in a loss of more than 30MW.


Environmental Compliance, Impacts & Permitting

Overall Land Use & Environmental Permits & Approvals Strategy

The following permits and approvals are anticipated to be required for the construction of this project.

Federal

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Clean Water Act Nationwide Permit, Clean Water Act Section 404 Individual Permit
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Section 7 Endangered Species Act Consultation, Section 10a Endangered Species Act Incidental Take Permit

State of Hawaiʻi

  • Department of Land and Natural Resources, State Historic Preservation Division: Cultural and Historic Resources Review
  • Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife: Hawaiʻi Endangered Species Act Compliance H R S § 195D-1 – 32
  • Land Use Commission: Special Use Permit*
  • Commission on Water Resource Management: Stream Channel Alteration Permit
  • Department of Health: National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System General Permit, Community Noise Permit, 401 Water Quality Certification
  • Public Utility Commission: Power Purchase Agreement Approval*
  • Department of Transportation: Oversize / Overweight Vehicles on State Highways

County of Hawaiʻi

  • Use Permit, Plan Approval, Building Permit, Electrical Permit, Grading Permit, Grubbing Permit, Stockpiling Permit

* – approval processes that include public participation

Gantt Format Schedule which identifies the sequencing of permit applications and approval activities and critical path

Click to enlarge

County Zoning & Land Use Classification There are no conservation easements, federal, state, or other public lands within the Project Area. There is state conservation land located directly west of the Project Area, approximately 0.05 miles from the nearest edge of the site. The conservation land consists of approximately 1,375 acres of coastal land. Hāpuna Beach State Recreation Area is located approximately 1.05 miles from the Project Area. No other conservation easements, federal, state, or other public lands were identified within 1 mile of the Project Area.
Discretionary and non-discretionary Land use, environmental and construction permits and approvals See “Overall Land Use & Environmental Permits & Approvals Strategy” above
Listing of Permits and approvals See “Overall Land Use & Environmental Permits & Approvals Strategy” above
Preliminary environmental assessment of the site (including any pre-existing environmental conditions)

Based on publicly available data, the proposed Project Area was evaluated to determine presence or absence of critical environmental issues that might constrain solar development.

This investigation revealed no critical issues that would prevent the project from further assessment and design.

The following items summarize the report findings. Additional coordination with regulatory agencies with permitting authorities will occur as the plans for this project develop.

  • The Project Area land cover is dominated by shrub and brush rangeland.
  • There are no conservation easements, federal, state, or other public lands within the Project Area; however, there is state conservation land located directly west of the Project Area.
  • There were two NWI wetlands, two NHD flowlines and no NHD waterbodies mapped within the Project Area. Solar project infrastructure (i.e. access roads, transmission lines, and foundations) should be sited to avoid watercourses and wetland features to the extent practicable to minimize potential wetland impacts and permitting requirements.
  • According to FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) (Panels 1551660310F, 1551660302F, and 1551660304F, effective September 29 2017), the entirety of the Project Area is located in Zone X which is an area is of minimal flood hazard and located outside of the 500-year flood zone. The Project Area is located on moderate slopes and is comprised of three drainage areas that drain to the west. The site has significant offsite drainage flowing through the Project Area with the possibility of channels overtopping and temporarily ponding numerous feet of water onsite.
  • No response has been received to inquiries to the DLNR and USFWS Pacific Islands office for information on state- and federally-listed threatened and endangered species with the potential to occur in proximity to the Project. The DLNR interactive mapping indicates the Project Area is within an area of low concentrations of T and E plant species. Eighteen federally-listed species are known to occur on Hawai‘i Island, five are protected state-wide and 13 are protected on the main island.
  • EPA data indicated no impaired streams or water features within the Project Area or within one mile of the Project.
  • No NRHP listed properties are in or within one mile of the Project. As the Project progresses, project proponents should consult with the SHPD, OHA, and the Native Hawaiian Historic Preservation Council. A cultural resources desktop review should be considered.
  • No significant records of environmental hazards were identified within the Project Area.
  • Three transmission lines and a substation are located adjacent to the north edge of the Project
  • Project is zoned as Agricultural District (A-5a) according to the County of Hawai‘i Planning Department. Development of solar and storage energy generation facilities will likely be contingent on approval of the Use Permit and Plan Approval processes. In addition, it is likely that Project development will require a Building Permit, Electrical Permit, Grading Permit, Grubbing Permit, Stockpiling Permit, and other Permits to Work within the Right-of-Way of Hawai‘i County highways.

Cultural Resource Impacts

Proposer’s updated Community Outreach Plan must include a plan that (1) identifies any cultural, historic or natural resources that will be impacted by the project (2) describes the potential impacts on these resources and 3) identifies measures to mitigate such impacts.

Preliminary work has been done to ascertain the likelihood of archaeological and cultural resources on the project site. A review of previously conducted studies of sites in the vicinity of the project site revealed little traditional use of the area before ranching and military use.

Initial research revealed no known burials, and two known archaeological features on the project site. Both archaeological figures are scattered domestic waste that suggest previous habitation of the vicinity. No restrictions or buffer zones were indicated for these sites, but project design will avoid the features.


Community Outreach

Detailed Community Outreach Plan

The key construct of ENGIE’s community outreach strategy is that ENGIE brings this project to the community, for the community to decide. ENGIE recognizes it is an outsider, but humbly comes to listen, engage, and ensure this project is a good fit.

Click here to read the original Community Outreach Plan, as well as modifications made to comply with restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic

Local community support or opposition

ENGIE has secured an agreement to use the land for this project. ENGIE’s preliminary discussions with community members and leaders did not indicate opposition, but rather, support for this clean energy project.

Community outreach efforts

Informing stakeholders, businesses, schools, and the neighboring communities during all phases of the project includes a strategy of open and frequent communication. ENGIE can identify the scope of the project to inform the aforementioned stakeholders in a multitude of offerings throughout the project, including educational outreach.

Community benefits

In addition to the environmental and economic benefits of delivering more clean energy to Hawaiʻi Island, ENGIE Hawaiʻi will utilize its experience in Hawaiʻi’s public schools to educate the community about renewable energy through public tours, student STEM (science / technology / engineering / math) enrichment programs, professional development for teachers, a fellowship program, and scholarships..

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