Maui may get its first two major solar power projects

Maui Electric has signed power purchase agreements with Maui-based developers for two major solar power plants totaling about 5.7-megawatts, which would be the first projects of its kind on the Valley Isle.

The contracts were filed with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, which still needs to approve these agreements.

Developer South Maui Renewables Resources — based in Kaanapali and headed up by Hawaii Pacific Solar executives, Patricia Rohlfing and Robert Johnston — plans to build a 2.87-megawatt project near the Maui Research and Technology Park in Kihei.

Lahaina-based Kuia Solar LLC, which lists Hawaii Pacific Solar and Haleakala Energy Associates LLC as its managing members, plans to build a 2.87-megawatt project in Lahaina near Lahainaluna School.

These projects are expected to offer up to nearly 6-megawatts of solar power to Maui Electric’s grid at a price of 11.06 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The utility said it does not mark up or take a profit from purchased power, passing the savings directly to Valley Isle customers.

Maui’s 2014 average monthly rate for residential customers was 37.83 cents per kilowatt-hour.

There are more than 8,000 rooftop photovoltaic systems installed in Maui County, with nearly 2,000 of those systems installed last year alone, the utility said.

More than 30 percent of the electricity used in Maui County now comes from renewable sources.