RLG client SolarCity goes big with Hawaiian project

A large solar array similar inscale to Kauai Island Utility Cooperative project featured on useful PV site.

By Eric Westoff


Solar installer and financier SolarCity has historically addressed the residential and small commercial market.

But SolarCity was just chosen by the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) to construct  a 14-megawatt (DC) solar photovoltaic power plant on land owned by Grove Farm. It’s a $40 million project that will use more than 50,000 panels on 67 acres of the tropical island. The project is still in the planning stages and won’t commence construction until mid-2013, pending regulatory approvals, so vendors and technologies have not yet been selected. It’s the first utility-scale deal won by SolarCity.

GTM Research Solar Analyst Andrew Krulewitz comments, “Continuing a trend that we’ve seen in SolarCity’s non-residential business, where systems have grown from ~50 kilowatts on average two years ago to the company now regularly connecting projects of one megawatt or more, it was only a matter of time before SolarCity tossed its hat in the utility-scale ring.” Krulewitz notes that 14 megawatts for $40 million works out to an installed cost of $2.85 per watt, which “isn’t bad, but it’s not industry-leading either.”

SolarCity is in its pre-IPO quiet period and is even less communicative than usual. Rob Day took a deep look at the solar installer and financier’s SEC paperwork here.


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