Kaiwiki Solar

Utility-scale solar and battery storage power plant
55 MW
Solar Photovoltaic
220 MWh
Battery Storage
20 Year
*To be executed in 2024
Online Date
Proposed Kaiwiki Area

Project Overview

Kaiwiki Solar is a thoughtfully-sited 55 MW photovoltaic facility with a 4-hour battery (220 MWh) that will provide low-cost renewable energy to the grid under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement with HELCO. The project sells clean energy at a fixed annual price and will provide clean energy to the grid after the sun goes down when demand for electricity peaks. 

The project sells power directly to HELCO to benefit all Hawaii Island ratepayers with power prices less than half that of volatile fossil fuels. The project is conducting extensive community engagement efforts, and additionally, the project includes a 20-year community benefit package whereby $165,000 per year will be donated to community programs with a focus on education, workforce development, and sustainable, local agriculture. 

Community Outreach Plan

Clearway is proactively informing and engaging with neighboring communities and stakeholders about the project scope, the project benefits, the development and governmental process, as well providing the community with timely information throughout all phases of the Kaiwiki Solar project, giving the community an opportunity to engage and weigh-in on the project. Clearway plans to connect with the community through early talk story meetings with community members as well as Town Hall meetings, presentations to neighborhood boards, and other outreach channels as the project progresses.

The following is a high-level schedule for Clearway’s Community Outreach Plan, which has already commenced and is due to continue after the PPA is submitted to the State Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for approval in Q4 2024, through to construction and operations. Key milestones for outreach to the community include:

  • Upon Final Award (December 1st, 2023)
  • Prior to SUP permitting application submissions to LUC and County for Plan Approval
  • Prior to start of construction following receipt of land use permits and prior to issuance of building/grading permits
  • During construction in order to ensure community has an opportunity to share any impacts due to construction

During each of these milestones and throughout the schedule, there are opportunities for Clearway to share with the community and for the community to share with Clearway. These communications will also provide opportunities for Clearway to share iterations it is making on the project, the Community Benefit Package and the Community Benefit Fund, and respond to community concerns.

The team expects to kick off its broader community engagement efforts in earnest immediately upon Final Award. Clearway’s award-winning development work in Hawaiʻi to date has been universally non-controversial. However, we are aware that every community is unique and shares different perspectives and unique concerns. Additionally, the community had been expecting residential development in the surrounding areas, and we expect that they will prefer the reduced traffic, visual and community impacts of the solar development versus residential development, along with the many benefits that solar brings to the island.

Click here to view Clearway's Community Outreach Plan for the Kaiwki Solar project.

Community Benefit Package

Investing in the Community

Community Benefit Fund

  • The Kaiwiki Community Benefit Package will include a contribution of $165,000 per year managed by a local non-profit organization with a Board or allocation committee thoughtfully appointed with input from local community members and landowners.
  • The community benefit funds will be spent on local projects, donated to local non-profits, and directed by the community, with a focus on education, community empowerment, and workforce development.

Restorative Development and Agriculture

  • Other in-kind contributions to the community will include the availability of lands for agriculture at dramatically discounted rents (typically $1/acre) to support local agriculture and local agricultural workforce development.

Educational Partnerships

  • Commitment to offering clean energy education to local schools and students, in partnership with Clearway's education partner Blue Planet Foundation

Lower Costs & Reliable Power

  • Providing a fixed price of power for 20 years contributing to reduced rate volatility;
  • The price per kWh offered by the project is lower than Hawaiian Electric’s avoided cost of generating electricity via fossil fuels or its current energy mix, which will result in lower ratepayer bills over time.
  • Providing battery energy storage that provides resiliency to the grid and allows the projects to continue providing solar energy to the grid after the sun goes down when loads peak.

See Clearway’s Community Engagement in Hawaii page for more details.

Proposed Host Community

Environmental Compliance and Permitting Plan

Siting Plans

Kaiwiki Solar has been designed with careful consideration of the permitting requirements related to the land use of the project site, as well as the potential environmental, biological, archeological, cultural and aesthetic impacts. The current conceptual design is both well-informed and adaptable. The site plan takes into account grading, drainage, civil, utilities, access, and lot coverage.

 The project is within the State Land Use Agricultural District, on lands classified by the Land Study Bureau’s Detailed Classification System as Class C soil. Per HRS §205-2(d)(6), solar projects are permitted on Class C soils as long as the facility occupies no more than 10 percent of the parcel acreage or twenty acres, whichever is less, or unless a Special Use Permit (SUP) has been granted by the State Land Use Commission. The project plans to pursue a SUP approval from LUC which Clearway has been successful in securing for three prior projects (Waipio PV, Kawailoa Solar, and Waiawa Solar). Sufficient timeline has been accounted for in the project schedule for securing the SUP.  

Located in the South Hilo District, the project is zoned by the County as Agricultural (20-acre minimum) and is therefore subject to Hawai`i County zoning. The Hawai`i County Zoning Code (HCZC) does not specifically include solar facilities as a permitted use. However, Hawai`i County has determined that solar projects, including supporting project substations, require Plan Approval only if they are located on lands designated as Agricultural by both the State and County; no use permit is required. Per HCZC §25-2-70, Plan Approval provides for close County review of proposed development projects to ensure that projects are developed in conformance with the County’s general plan and zoning code.  Clearway has met with Hawaii County Planning department for initial consultation on this Plan Approval process for projects.

Our conceptual design reflects Clearway’s experience permitting utility-scale solar projects in Hawaii, including incorporation of setbacks from key roadways and viewing areas to minimize visual impacts; setbacks from residential areas to ensure that construction noise and dust as well as construction and operations-related traffic does not impact adjacent our neighbors; setbacks from sensitive resources including biological and cultural resources; and siting in close proximity to transmission infrastructure with available Hosting Capacity. In addition, we will incorporate best design practices from our operating solar projects on Oahu (185 MW including Mililani I and II, Kawailoa, Wapio and Waiawa) as we further refine our project design.

As with our other projects, Clearway will actively engage with community stakeholders including the nearby community and neighborhood associations, to solicit feedback on our site and design and provide project information through open house meetings and informal updates at regularly scheduled district meetings. In doing so, we will proactively answer questions from the community to ensure a streamlined agency review process.


The project site has been actively used as a macadamia nut tree farm by Kaiwiki Orchards LLC (Edmund Olson Trust No. 2) for the last several decades and therefore, likely contains minimal to no sensitive wildlife habitat and limited potential for onsite cultural resources. In order to understand potential constraints of the site and permitting pathway, Clearway Energy completed a detail review of desktop biological, cultural, and archeological resources.

Clearway will scope and facilitate technical investigations of the site and the surrounding lands to address the potential for archaeological and cultural resources, and sensitive flora/fauna resources potentially affected by the project. A construction traffic assessment will also be commissioned, along with a solar glint/glare study, landscape plan, and a civil engineering assessment. These expert studies prepared by subcontractors are required to support the Land Use Commission application for Special Use Permit (required due to the use of LSB Rated B soils).

Archeological and Cultural Resources

To understand the potential for archeological resources onsite, Clearway retained ASM Affiliates to conduct an archeological due diligence study of the project site, including a Field Inspection. No prior studies have been completed on the site. However, some studies have been completed in the general vicinity, including the Honoli’i Stream and former sugarcane fields. The studies concluded that former sugarcane fields have little potential to contain intact archeological resources pre-dating commercial sugarcane cultivation but that undisturbed or minimally disturbed gulch areas may contain precontact or historic sites and features. 

A field inspection of the site was completed in July 2022 and concluded that the likelihood of encountering archeological resources is low and will likely be limited to Historic period sites associated with commercial cultivation occurring on the site such as a concrete bridge, plantation roads that are still in use, a culvert, remnant asphalt marking the location of a former airstrip, a portion of a trail, and a section of an old cart road. Clearway is designing the project to avoid all of these resources and in consultation with SHPD, will retain ASM Affiliates to complete an Archeological Impact Study.

The targeted field inspection conducted by ASM did, however, identify a number of potential historic properties within the study area including a Historic concrete bridge crossing Māʻili Stream at the entrance to the study area; several historic plantation roads (most of which are still in-use); a culvert with a hollow tile wall and a 4-foot corrugated steel pipe running under the road crossing the unamed stream that separates Kaiwiki from Maumau Ahupuaʻa; remnant asphalt marking the location of the former Honoliʻi Airstrip; a portion of a trail along the northeastern edge of the project area; a scattering of ʻiliʻili (waterworn pebbles) near the eastern end of the study area; and a section of an old cart road that crosses Māʻili Stream.

It is likely that the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) will require that an Archaeological Inventory Survey (AIS) prepared in accordance with Hawaiʻi Administrative Rules (HAR) §13-284 be conducted in conjunction with any Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes (HRS) Chapter 6E action associated with the proposed solar development. Given the majority of the archaeological sites identified during the field inspection are isolated, the proposed solar project can be designed to avoid impacting historic properties. Since existing roads will be utilized, AIS-level documentation will be prepared for the bridge, historic roads, culvert, and the asphalt airfield remnants.

To our knowledge there is no element of the proposed solar project that triggers compliance with HRS Chapter 343, and therefore preparation of a Cultural Impact Assessment (CIA) will likely not be required. However, ASM Affiliates are also contracted to provide a follow-on Ka Pa’akai Cultural Survey to review cultural resources.  Based on what we know to date, consideration of impacts to cultural resources and customary practices could include stream resources and the trail and ʻohe grove found along the northeastern edge of the property. Ka Pa’akai Analysis is a more condensed version of a CIA that may or may not include interviews with descendant community members.

Biological Resources

Vegetation on the Property is predominantly non-native, and consists mainly of dryland grasses, agricultural macadamia nut trees and agricultural sweet potatoes. The site does not contain Critical Habitat as designated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service but similar to the rest of the Big Island, the site has the potential to support the Hawaiian hoary bat, and several avian species that fly over the site. Upon award, Clearway would conduct a biological resource survey to determine the potential for these species to be onsite based on existing habitat conditions. The project would be sited and designed to minimize impacts to these species such as incorporating wildlife-friendly fencing (i.e. no barbed wire). As standard best practice and similar to its other Hawai'i solar sites, Clearway would also prepare and implement a Wildlife Protection Plan details out wildlife protection management practices during operations.

Based on desktop review, there is one potential drainage within the project site that could be considered jurisdictional by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). A full wetland delineation will be completed to inform the project’s site design. Clearway designs all of its project to avoid to jurisdictional waters and if avoidance is not possible, the project is designed to minimize impacts by complying with the conditions of the Section 404 Clean Water Act Nationwide Permit program.

* Preliminary environmental assessment of the Site (including any pre-existing environmental conditions)

List of Regulatory and Permit Approvals

The following are the required permits for the Kaiwiki Solar project. Clearway anticipates designing the project to avoid impacts to waters under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and implementing best management practices during construction and operation to avoid adverse impacts to State and Federally protected species. Clearway will consult with the appropriate state and federal agencies. However no formal approvals are anticipated to be required from USACE, USFWS, Hawai`i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW).


Permit Name: A Notice of General Permit Coverage (NGPC) for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)

Federal, State or Local agencies and authorities having jurisdiction over the issuance: State of Hawai`i Department of Health

State Land Use

Permit name: Special Use Permit

Federal, State or Local agencies and authorities having jurisdiction over the issuance: Hawaii State Land Use Commission

Permit name: State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) Approval

Federal, State or Local agencies and authorities having jurisdiction over the issuance: State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD)

County Land Use

Permit name: Hawaii County Plan Approval

Federal, State or Local agencies and authorities having jurisdiction over the issuance: Hawai`i County Department of Planning

County Building and Grading Permits

Permit Name: Building and Grading Permits (PV/BESS, Substation, OH line, and COIF including Switching Station and  Remote Subs/Circuits)

Federal, State or Local agencies and authorities having jurisdiction over the issuance: Hawai`i County Department of Public Works and Environmental Management

Major Events & Milestones

Kaiwiki Project Timeline

Review key milestones in our Kaiwiki Project. For the complete timeline, view our detailed PDF here.


July: Shortlisted

December: Final Award


January - December:  Design & Engineering

September: Submit Permitting Applications (CUP)

December: Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) Executed


Permit Approvals

2026 - 2028

October '26 — May '27: Construction

December 29, 2028: Commercial Operations





Project Technical Details

Project Owner

Clearway Energy Group

Project Capacity (MW):

55 MW

Proposed Facility Location:

Kaiwiki Orchards - Macadamia Nut Orchard near Hilo, HI

TMK(s) of Facility Location:

(3) 2-6-009-049

Point of Interconnection’s Circuit:

L7400 and L8400 - existing 69kV HELCO circuits

Tangible Emissions Impact

This 55 MW Solar Project Would Replace Fossil Fuels Equivalent to

Pounds of coal burned
Barrels of oil consumed
Miles driven by average gas-powered passenger vehicle
Gallons of gasoline consumed
Over the 20 year PPA term of this project. Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator | US EPA

Tell us what you think

We want to hear from you. Please submit your feedback, ideas, and comments on the Kaiwiki Solar project.

Aerial view of Hilo Hawaii