Pulehu Solar Project Delayed
Unfortunately, the Pulehu Solar project will be delayed because of the global supply chain crisis and sharp cost increases in solar and battery equipment, as well as rising interest rates, making it no longer feasible to build the projects at the prices that were bid in 2019 and set in the PPAs. Longroad Energy made the difficult decision to terminate the Stage 2 Power Purchase Agreement (PPAs) and will instead re-bid the project into the upcoming Stage 3 Request for Proposals (RFP).
Development of the project has been successful, obtaining most of the needed permits and approvals, completing all studies and most engineering, and having strong community support. But development has been on hold since the start of the supply chain crisis while Longroad worked with Hawaiian Electric to amend the current PPAs. The Public Utilities Commission rejected the amendments and Longroad subsequently filed a motion asking the PUC to reconsider. Unfortunately, continued supply chain issues, most notably battery storage system availability and pricing, have challenged even the amended PPAs; therefore Longroad made the difficult decision to cancel the current PPA and start preparing to propose the project into the Stage 3 RFP.
We want to thank community members, landowners, consultants, government officials and the utility for their continued support of this project. We look forward to re-bidding the project later this year and hope this is ultimately just a delay in bringing it online.
Longroad Energy is designing the Pulehu Solar project to produce clean energy in Pulehu, Maui. At 40 MW(ac), this project could produce up to 9% of the island’s electricity annually, enough to power about 15,000 local homes, enabling MECO to burn less fossil fuel and emit less greenhouse gasses. The project would also include a 160 MWh battery system to store solar energy during the day and provide power at night, and a new substation to connect to the Maui grid.
Since 2005, the team at Longroad (previously as First Wind) has worked successfully with local communities to develop 7 of Hawaii’s largest energy projects, including Kaheawa Wind above Ma‘alaea. At Pulehu Solar, we are working with Haleakala Ranch to turn some of their less productive land into low-cost clean energy for the island. The project would occupy 363 acres makai (west) of Pulehu Road. The project would likely create more than 150 jobs during construction and another 1-2 long-term positions during operations.
The project is located away from most residential areas but would be visible from Pulehu Road and at a distance from several vantage points. Based on initial studies, the project is not expected to impact cultural activities, archaeological or natural resources. We will be conducting further site assessments and also want to hear from people in the surrounding communities. If you would like information about the project or have thoughts, suggestions or questions, please sign up for our email list.
|Location||Pulehu, Maui (makai of Pulehu Road)|
|Solar Capacity (ac)||40 MW|
|Battery Storage||160 MWh|
|Target Completion||April 2023|
|Parcel Tax Map Keys||2-5-001:003, 2-5-001:004, 2-2-002:016||Interconnection Circuit||Maalaea-Kula Ag Park 69kV circuit|
Community Outreach Plan
The Longroad team appreciates the importance of local community outreach and two-way communication about energy projects. In our days as First Wind, from 2005 to 2015, as we conducted extensive community engagement for several projects – Kaheawa Wind-I and Kaheawa Wind-II on Maui, and Kahuku Wind, Kawailoa Wind, Kawailoa Solar, Mililani Solar and Waipio Solar on Oahu – we listened to input from the community to inform and shape the design and approach of our energy projects. For this project, we plan to conduct similar community outreach to share honest information and foster conversations with nearby residents, businesses and other stakeholders to improve the project.
In 2020, we will be reaching out to community organizations and representatives via email to share information about the project. We will post updates to the project on this webpage, and we invite people to sign up for our email list to receive updates as they happen, as well share their ideas, thoughts or concerns with us. Over the next several months, we will be holding public meetings, either live or virtual/online, to give members of the community an opportunity to learn about the project, ask questions and provide input to us through verbal or written comments. Additionally, there will be opportunities during the permitting process for members of the public to attend, hear about the project and provide comments directly to public agencies. We will be providing information on the project and notice of upcoming meetings through press releases to the local news media and to our email list.
Online public meetings were held in July and October. We discussed updates to the project to incorporate many of the changes suggested by Maui residents, and we received excellent comments and questions from attendees.
Please check this webpage for future meetings or register here and we will send an email as meetings are scheduled. You can send comments, questions or suggestions on the project at any time to firstname.lastname@example.org
Longroad will also be forming a community advisory group for the project, to be made up of several volunteers who live or work in the area around the project. This community advisory group will advise Longroad through the help collect input from the broader community and facilitate two-way conversations to help improve the positive impacts of the project and minimize the negative.
The positive impacts from a solar project are more clean, locally generated renewable energy, less fossil-fuel burning, less greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate changes, and hopefully lower and/or more stable electricity prices. Because of the distance of the project from residential areas, most people who live in the general area will not see the project from their homes or experience any sound, visual or other impacts. Based on initial studies, the project is not expected to create significant impacts to archaeological resources, cultural practices, or any sensitive flora or fauna. We will conduct further site studies to learn more about potential resource impacts.
We want to gather more information from members of the communities near the project site to share information about potential impacts – positive and negative – and to hear their input and suggestions about how to improve the project for everyone.
Initial Site Assessment & Permitting Plan
Based on initial studies, the project is not expected to create significant impacts to archaeological resources, cultural practices, or any sensitive flora or fauna. Longroad conducted an initial site assessment in 2017 which looked at archaeological, cultural, biological and other environmental resources, as well as potential impacts to drainage, traffic, view plan, and many other factors. The result was that the project will create minimal, if any, negative impacts to the on-site resources or the surrounding community.
To date, no sensitive resources or unique conditions have been identified that warrant special consideration in the siting process. The preliminary results of the due diligence efforts, in combination with the current land use classification and zoning designations underscore the suitability of the proposed site for a utility-scale solar facility. Moving forward, the due diligence efforts will be completed to the level of detail needed to meet agency requirements for permitting and compliance with applicable laws. If any sensitive resources are identified through the remainder of this process, the appropriate steps will be taken to avoid, minimize and mitigate potential impacts, with the resulting information incorporated into the discretionary permit process. Based on the land use and zoning designations, the proposed solar project is consistent with state and county land use regulations, and no changes in the land use classification or zoning district would be required for project implementation.
|Anticipated Permit/Approval||Authorizing Agency|
|Historic Preservation Review (HRS Chapter 6E)||State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD)|
|National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)||State Department of Health (DOH) Clean Water Branch|
|Noise Permit||DOH Indoor and Radiological Health Branch|
|County Special Use Permit||County of Maui Planning Department and Planning Commission|
|Building Permit||County of Maui Department of Public Works|
|Grading and Grubbing Permit||County of Maui Department of Public Works|
Visual & Water Impacts
Given the relatively flat terrain of the central plain and the low profile of the solar panels, most of the solar arrays located within the lower elevations of the site are not expected to be readily visible from nearby areas. Westward views of the edge of the project including the project substation and battery yard will be visible from passing traffic along Pulehu Road. The arrays of solar panels would be visible from more distant locations with higher elevations. However, views from these locations are expected to be minimally impacted, based on the low profile of the solar panels and the distance from the viewing location. Overall, it is expected that the facilities would blend into the patchwork of surrounding agricultural uses that define the landscape, and would not obstruct any of the dominant viewsheds, including those of Haleakala, the West Maui Mountains or the shoreline. As solar panels are designed to absorb as much light as possible with minimal reflectivity, the Project is not expected to result in significant glint or glare issues. For these reasons, the Project is not expected to significantly affect visual resources.
Based on preliminary design information, the Project would not directly affect any water resources. Drainage across the site currently exists in the form of surface runoff based on the natural topography, with stormwater eventually flowing into one of the onsite gulches. The Project would not significantly alter these existing drainage patterns. Solar projects would not alter general runoff patterns, and given the relatively short duration of construction and with implementation of BMPs the potential for sedimentation or increased pollutants in stormwater runoff is expected to be minimal.
Archaeological & Cultural Resources
Based on the archaeological and cultural resources assessment, it is unlikely that the Project site contains significant cultural and archaeological resources or is used for cultural practices. If significant resources or practices are encountered, the Project will be designed to minimize any potential impacts, but in the event that resources cannot be completely avoided, Longroad would work with our consultant in consultation with SHPD and community members, to develop a cultural resource mitigation plan to address any potential issues.
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