On Hawaii’s Big Island, Developer Breaks Ground on Off-Grid Solar Community

Hawaii-based developer Brian Anderson is planning a 410-home development along the Big Island’s “Gold Coast” that would become the first off-grid community of this magnitude, he told Pacific Business News on March 13.

Anderson’s company, JPL, is developing the Ainamalu project, which, he told the local news outlet, would comprise 350 detached single-family homes and 60 condominiums in the Waikoloa resort community.

JPL has struck a deal with local contractor Koloa for rooftop solar energy systems and with Blue Planet Energy’s Blue Ion battery storage systems. In addition, Anderson told PBN that each home would include energy efficient appliances.

“When considering how to power our community, we felt it was our responsibility to create something that would benefit future generations through the use of clean and safe renewable energy,” Anderson, who once owned the iconic Ilikai hotel in Waikiki, said in a statement.

He pointed out that Waikoloa gets less than 11 inches of rain each year, making it one of the driest spots in the state and because of Hawaii’s proximity to the Equator, it is one of the best places to harness solar energy for power use.

Anderson said that, to ensure energy security, Ainamalu’s microgrid has been designed with an additional large community energy storage system. All utilities, both gas and electric, will also be built underground.

If an individual homeowner’s needs exceed what his or her home produces, additional power will be available from the community storage for a fee lower than the current utility rates., the developer promised. The community also will be tied into a central backup power supply to make sure homeowners never go without power.

The concept being used at Ainamalu is called “Hee,” according PBN –  a microgrid technology named after the Hawaiian octopus for the system’s unique ability to handle the renewable energy distribution throughout the multiple arms of the community safely and reliably, the developer said. The Hee energy systems will be installed by Hawaii Unified

Prices for the three- and four-bedroom homes are expected to start at $750,000. Construction already has started on the first 195 units, with those residences scheduled to go on the market by year-end 2017.

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