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July 8, 2017

Tesla Energy, a division of entrepreneur Elon Musk’s Tesla, and SolarCity, which recently was acquired by Tesla, unveiled their major solar farm and energy storage project on the Hawaiian island of Kauai Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning, the two companies along with Kauai Island Utility Cooperative and others were part of a blessing ceremony for the project that was developed on 50 acres of land owned by Grove Farm Co. near KIUC’s Kapaia power station off Maalo Road north of Lihue.

“The importance of this project for the member-owners of KIUC can’t be overstated,” David Bissell, president and CEO of KIUC, said in a statement. “By using solar energy stored in the battery after the sun goes down, we will reduce our use of imported fuels and our greenhouse gas emissions significantly.”

SolarCity built the system and selected Telsa Energy for the planned project, which is believed to be the first utility-scale system in the United States that will be able to provide electricity generated from solar energy on demand, even at night.

The 52-megawatt-hour Tesla Powerpack lithium-ion battery storage system will provide up to 13 megawatts of power onto the grid.

“For the first time, solar power can deliver 24-hours-a-day and follow the load when it is needed by the utility,” J.B. Straubel, co-founder and chief technical officer of Tesla, who was on Kauai for the ceremony, said.

The project, which includes nearly 55,000 solar panels and 272 Telsa Powerpacks, will bring KIUC to more than 40 percent renewable energy generation. KIUC has a 20-year power purchase agreement to purchase power from the project at 13.9 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is less than the current cost of oil.

KIUC also has struck a deal with a subsidiary of Virginia-based AES Corp. for the development of a solar-plus-battery storage project on the island’s South Shore that includes a 28-megawatt solar farm and a 20-megawatt five-hour duration energy storage system.

The system will be located on former sugarcane land between Lawai and Koloa and will be the largest project of its kind in the state, as well as one of the biggest battery systems in the world.

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