Monday | December 11, 2017
About Us | Contact | Subscribe

Puuanahulu water company looks to go solar

Updated: 
November 27, 2014 - 12:05am

Another West Hawaii water system is looking to alternative energy to cut the costs of pumping fresh water from deep in the island.

Napuu Water Inc., which serves residents of the Puuanahulu and Puuwaawaa areas, is eyeing 2 acres of state pasture land to build an 800-panel solar array and storage system. The energy would cut the power bill in half for two 2,500-foot deep groundwater wells.

The member-owned water system serves 132 residential connections, three cattle ranches, the Puuwaawaa reservoir, the Big Island Country Club, a fire station and a substation according to a draft environmental assessment which found no significant impacts from the project. The array would be located makai of the base of the cinder cone, but close enough to the slope that it would not be visible from the public viewing area at the top, according to the EA. A study found no archaeological, cultural or biological resources to be present at the site.

Napuu Water seeks an easement on 1.7 acres adjacent to one of the wells and the existing Puu Waawaa Ranch Energy Lab. The panels would produce 650 to 780 kilowatt hours daily and store excess energy in a flywheel storage system. The two wells draw a combined average of about 1.6 million gallons from the Kiholo aquifer, which has an estimated sustained yield of 18 million gallons a day.

SunWize, a company that builds, sells and finances sustainable energy systems, will operate the PV array and sell the energy to the water company at half of current electric rates.

The arrangement is similar to a nearby wind farm project to power county wells.

In June, a draft environmental assessment found no significant impacts for a Kohala wind farm project to power eight county wells in the Lalamilo-Parker well system. The $13 million project by Lalamilo Wind Co. will install five Vestas 660 kilowatt wind turbines and cut the power bill for the wells in half, saving ratepayers from Mauna Lani Resort to Kawaihae an estimated $1 million a year.

As part of the environmental assessment process, public comment on the Napuu Water project is being taken until Dec. 23. Comments should be sent to the applicant, the approving agency and the consultant. These are, respectively: Na Puu Water Inc., P.O. Box 2217, Kamuela, HI 96743; Hawaii State DLNR, c/o Land Division, Hawaii District, 75 Aupuni St., Room 204, Hilo, HI 96720; Geometrician Associates, P.O. Box 396, Hilo, HI 96721.

Rules for posting comments