It might seem obvious why Hawaii loves solar farms. Lots of sun, right? Wrong.
Hawaii has realized that solar helps greatly offset their energy costs. Importing electrical power to the island costs three times as much as it does the continental U.S., and solar farms don’t interfere with the island’s aesthetics (and therefore its economics) as other forms of alternative energy such as enormous wind turbines. The 400-foot wind turbines built so far, which seemed so promising at first, have begun to irritate local executives because some can be seen from scenic highways.
But the 50th state announced Monday (May 28, 2014), that it’s even fast-tracking several projects for several reasons. Nine solar farms have been proposed on the island of Oahu. The Hawaiian Electric Company announced it hopes to have the farms generating energy by 2015. They could drastically reduce electrical costs for homeowners and tourists on the island. Average kilowatt-per-hour costs to consumers, businesses and farms could be as low as 15.8 cents, down from 22.7 for the oil-produced energy era.
Despite that they’re relatively unobtrusive, solar farms in sacred Hawaiian locations have met fierce opposition — and have been stopped in their tracks by veterans and historians — those are near World War II historic sites.
But the island is home to tons of them as part of its ongoing goal of using a staggering 40 percent of its energy from alternative forms in just 15 years. That’s one of the highest goals in the U.S. Other islands are also teeing up. Up to 12 megawatts of power might soon be generated on Kauai using 45,000 solar panels. The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative recently started building the solar farm.