Puakō Solar

Utility-scale solar and battery storage power plant
60 MW
Solar Photovoltaic
240 MWh
Battery Storage
20 Year
*to be executed with HELCO in 2024
Online Date
Kohala Coastline

Project Overview

Puakō Solar is a thoughtfully-sited 60 MW photovoltaic facility with a 4-hour battery (240 MWh) that will provide low-cost renewable energy to the grid for 20 years at a fixed annual price. The project will make clean energy available 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 well below HELCO’s avoided cost to procure electricity via fossil fuels. The project is conducting extensive community engagement efforts, and additionally, the project includes a community benefit package for 20 years whereby $180,000 per year will be donated to community programs with a focus on education, workforce development, and sustainable, local agriculture.   

Community Outreach Plan

Clearway is focused on carefully 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 Puakō 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
  • Prior to County 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

Each of these milestones and throughout the schedule described below, 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 in response to community concerns that are shared.

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

Community Benefit Package

Investing in the Community

Community Benefit Fund

  • The annual $180,000 Puakō Solar Community Benefit Fund will be managed by a local non-profit organization created by Clearway with a Board or allocation committee thoughtfully appointed with input from local community members and landowners.
  • The community benefit funds to 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.
  • Other projects to be considered could include infrastructure improvements, enhanced educational opportunities, jobs and job training, historical and/or cultural protection, neighborhood beautification, and any other similar community benefit.

Workforce Development & Economic Investment

  • It is estimated that project construction would result in the creation of over 300 local jobs and invest millions of dollars in Hawai‘i's economy.

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 clean power to the grid at half the price of fossil fuels.
  • 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.
Proposed Host Community

Project Site Maps

Click to enlarge images
*Alternative routes are under consideration

Environmental Compliance and Permitting Plan

Siting Plans

Puakō 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 of the Project. The project site is well-studied and as such the current conceptual design is well informed, but adaptable. The site plan takes into account grading, drainage, civil, utilities, access, and lot coverage.

The Puakō Project is within the State Land Use Agricultural District, on lands classified by the Land Study Bureau’s Detailed Classification System as Class E soils. Per HRS §205-2(d)(6), solar projects are permitted on Class E soils. Located in the North and South Kohala District Zone, the Project is zoned by the County as Agricultural (A-5a) 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.

South Kohala Community Development Plan: Agricultural Area

County Zoning: Agricultural (A-5a)

Special Management Area (SMA): Outside SMA

According to the Flood Insurance Rate Map prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Flood Insurance Program, the Property is within Flood Zone X. This means that the Property is outside the 0.2 percent-annual-chance (500-year) flood zone.

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 (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 site was pursued by Engie in the Stage 2 RFP with generally strong community support.


The Project site is vacant, undeveloped land with scrub vegetation and lava rock. The project site has been the focus of previous development efforts, including a master-planned rural community and more recently as a utility-scale solar project, and therefore, has been well studied. In order to understand potential constraints of the site and permitting pathway, Clearway Energy completed a detail review of the studies completed to date to understand the potential site constraints. The previous studies, including a Phase 1 ESA, Archeological Inventory Study, land use and zoning review, and a draft notice to prepare an Environmental Impact Study.

Environmental Impact Statement Performed for Housing Development

A draft EIS was performed for a housing developer associated with the landowner, Kamakoa Partners, LLC, in March 2016 by PBR Hawaii & Associates, Inc. and included a comprehensive review of environmental conditions of the site.

Archeological and Cultural Resources

The Archaeological Inventory Survey (AIS) on the site was completed in 2016. A Cultural Impact Assessment has not been completed yet. The AIS identified 21 sites and recommended that these resources be preserved and/or avoided. A preservation plan and data recovery plan is recommended to be prepared and submitted to SHPD for review. Clearway will consult with an archaeologist and State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) to determine if an update to the AIS is warranted and will proceed forward with preparing the recommended plans in consultation with SHPD.

Biological Resources

The site is currently vacant and undeveloped, open land with very limited vegetation. Vegetation on the Property is predominantly non-native, and consists mainly of dryland grasses. A substantial portion of the ground is bare, with exposed lava rock. Shrubs and a few trees inhabit the gullies. 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 Hawaiian solar sites, Clearway would also prepare and implement a Wildlife Protection Plan that details out wildlife protection management practices during operations.

Based on desktop review, there are two potential drainages (Waialea Gulch and Kamakoa Gulch) 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 projects to avoid 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.

List of Regulatory and Permit Approvals

The following are the required permits for the Puakō 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 Hawaiʻi Department of Health

State Land Use

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: Hawaiʻi 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)

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

Major Events & Milestones

Puakō Project Timeline

Review the key milestones in this project's development process. 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 — December '27: Construction

August 31, 2028: Commercial Operations





Project Technical Details

Project Owner

Clearway Energy Group

Project Capacity (MW):

60 MW

Proposed Facility Location:

Near Puako Bay, Waikoloa, HI

TMK(s) of Facility Location:

(3) 6-8-001-024 and (3) 6-8-001-060

Point of Interconnection’s Circuit:

L8100 and L8300 - existing 69kV HELCO circuits

Tangible Emissions Impact

This 60 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 send questions, comments, or ideas about the Puakō Solar project.

Puako coastline