75 Homes for 100 Years

SUBHEAD:Hydro-electric plant in Koloa goes online. A baby-step toward sustainability on Kauai. Image above; No bigger than a small house itself, a new hydro-electric powerplant goes online on Kauai. Photo by Dennis Fujimoto. [Publisher's Note: This is a good start, but for self-reliance we'll need another 2000 projects of this scale in the next couple of years. The reason? Brownouts will be more common because sometime around 2012 crude oil should be hitting a record price per barrel and the average cost to electrify a home on Kauai could exceed $400/month.] By Dennis Fujimoto on 10 May 2010 in The Garden Island News - (http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/article_4821f55e-5cd2-11df-8a8f-001cc4c03286.html)

That is the capacity of a new hydroelectric plant that was dedicated by Green Energy Hydro, Monday afternoon, in an albizia forest just outside of Koloa.

Jim Guerber, one of the helpers on the project, said the plant has the capacity to power 75 homes for at least 100 years, noting the Lihu‘e hydro plant is at least 100 years old.

Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. called the plant dedication a big step toward a brighter future in sustainability, where the island becomes less dependent on fossil fuel and utilizes its own resources to help fulfill its needs.

This concept was embraced by the late mayor Bryan Baptiste, and in the blessing, the plant was dedicated to his memory with Annette Baptiste, his widow, in attendance.

Eric Knudsen, a Green Energy Hydro partner, said the good thing about the hydro plant is that it’s always on.

Four thousand feet of pipe averaging 18 inches in diameter were laid to prepare the plant for operation. The pipe at its largest end measures 21 inches across and at the inlet where electricity is produced, the pipe tapers to 15 inches in diameter.

Guerber said when shipping, the pipes were telescoped into each other to reduce costs of getting the pipes to Kaua‘i.

Knudsen said the pipes were laid on a course with a 28-degree incline at its steepest point, minimizing the impact on the environment. He noted that with the difference in elevation, water develops kinetic energy on its journey from the reservoir to the plant.

Once the water feeds into the Pelton wheel, the plant is capable of generating 125,000 kilowatts of power, although when Carvalho and Bill Cowern threw the switch, the plant was outputting 96,000 kilowatts of power.

One of the guests included JoAnn Yukimura, former mayor and councilwoman, who noted that her husband helped with the plans for the hydro plant, the Pelton wheel concept dating back to the 1870s after being invented by Lester Allan Pelton.

“How many of you want to reduce your electric bill?” Knudsen prodded the audience made up of representatives from Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, the Grove Farm Company, the Knudsen Land Trust, and other groups.

Image above: Mayor Bernard Carvalho and Bill Cowern ready to switch on generator. Photo By Dennis Fujimoto.

Almost all hands shot into the air, hands that joined together in applause as the machinery whirred to life, the fluorescent lamps in the plant flickering to life as the plant worked its magic of transforming flowing water into electricity.

Cowern, another partner with Green Energy Hydro and a Hawaiian Mahogany grower, noted that all the lumber used in the building housing the plant were derived from the albizia trees grown on island with the exception of the main beams which were formed using Norfolk.

Cowern said the project cost $700,000 with an anticipated payback period of about five years.

“This is just a little project,” Knudsen said. “But if everyone does little projects, it makes an impact.”


1 comment :

noel said...

wonderful. who owns it? is is private? how does it integrate with the public utility? does the electricity supply a dedicated subdivision or community? who owns the dam? how is it staffed? sorry for all the questions but I'm on Maui so haven't followed this development. very interested though - more details please! Regards,

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