Hawaii Co-op Takes Top Spot for Energy Storage Watts

California and Tennessee co-ops post strong showings for solar in new SEPA top 10 lists

This Tesla Powerpack helped KIUC earn the top spot for the most new energy storage watts per member in the new SEPA Top 10. (Photo By: KIUC)
This Tesla Powerpack helped KIUC earn the top spot for the most new energy storage watts per member in the new SEPA Top 10. (Photo By: KIUC)

A first-place trophy for adding the most new energy storage watts per member goes to Hawaii’s Kauai Island Utility Cooperative. And two other co-ops also had strong showings on a series of new top 10 lists from the Smart Electric Power Alliance.

KIUC easily took the top spot on SEPA’s storage watts per customer/member list by adding a whopping 415.3 watts per member in 2017. That’s more than eight times the figure of the runner-up Tucson Electric Power, an investor-owned utility in Arizona.

KIUC credits the huge gain mostly to a partnership with Tesla on a plant that opened in March 2017. During the day, the sun’s energy is stored in 272 lithium-ion Tesla Powerpack batteries. When the co-op’s evening peak rolls around, it’s able to dispatch up to 52 megawatt hours of power.

“Battery storage is a key part of our cooperative’s push towards 100 percent renewable and we are pleased that KIUC is leading the way in using battery technology to move solar energy into our evening peak demand period,” said David Bissell, KIUC president and CEO. He noted that thanks to the plant, the Lihue-based co-op is now at about 46 percent renewable generation.

Brad Rockwell, KIUC’s supply manager, said the plant is ideal.

“We have so much solar that on most days, when the sun is out, about 80 percent of midday production is coming from solar,” said Rockwell. “You can’t go much higher on an island system. We can’t export; we need to be able to store hours and hours of midday solar.”

KIUC also took fifth place on SEPA’s top 10 list of annual megawatts of utility energy storage, with 13.7 MW.

Two co-ops made SEPA’s top 10 list of utility solar rankings based on annual watts per customer/member.

Anza Electric Cooperative in Anza, California, had 1,455.5 watts per member of utility solar last year, which landed it in the No. 3 spot.

“We’re very excited to receive this recognition by SEPA,” said Kevin Short, AEC general manager.

“It’s an honor to be recognized for our efforts to bring renewable energy generation to our members, an achievement that we could not have accomplished without the tireless efforts of our generation and transmission partner, Arizona Electric Power Cooperative. Their work both here in California and in Arizona towards helping us meet our state mandated renewable goals has been critical to our success.”

Pickwick Electric Cooperative in Selmer, Tennessee, came in No. 5 with 1,195.9 watts per member.

“It’s an honor to help highlight the commitment of cooperatives to add utility-scale solar to the grid,” said John Bowers, PEC president.

SEPA’s top 10 lists were announced April 25. The Utility Solar Top 10 lists are based on data provided by 423 utilities, representing around 114 million consumers. The Storage Top 10 lists come from data provided by 169 utilities, representing more than 70 million consumers.

Michael W. Kahn is a staff writer at NRECA.