Kaua’i Island expects to obliterate its solar goal five years early

Is Kaua’i Island the Sergey Bubka of renewable energy? Or is Sergey Bubka the Kaua’i Island of pole vaulting?

Kaua’i Island, the geologically oldest of the Hawaiian Islands, is the Sergey Bubka of renewable energy goals.

Bubka held the world high-jump record for 30 years (1984-2014) by clearing the high bar with ease – and then asking that it be raised again. That’s how the Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) Board of Directors reacted when they discovered they were on schedule to hit their renewable-energy generation goal of 50% as soon as 2018, five years ahead of the mandated year of 2023.

Without batting an eye, the board set an ever-more aggressive goal of 70% by 2030, which by some calculations is even more aggressive that Hawaii’s overall goal of generating 100% of its energy renewables by 2045.

But Jan TenBruggencate, KIUC’s board chairman, has complete confidence in the island’s ability to meet the new goal, given the utility’s track record of developing new renewable sources over the past six years.

“With the anticipation of the Solar City/Tesla solar-plus-battery facility coming online within a few weeks, we will have already achieved roughly 44% renewable generation,” said  David Bissell, KIUC’s president and CEO. “This is truly remarkable when you consider that as recently as 2011 we were 92% dependent on fossil-fuel generation.”

Kaua’i Island’s new plan is merely the latest good solar news to come out of the Islands. In December, Hawaiian Electric Co. announced its five-year plans, which included aggressive expansions of its solar capacity.