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Electricity ‘Microgrid’ Focus of New Parker Ranch Subsidiary

April 2, 2014, 5:17 PM HST (Updated April 2, 2014, 5:18 PM)
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Parker Ranch today announced it has created a new subsidiary aimed at providing electricity generated by renewable sources to the Waimea ranch and surrounding areas.

The Paniolo Power Company LLC was formed as a result of a study done by a team of energy consultants led by Siemens Power Technologies International.

The integrated resource plan indicated there was a strong opportunity to attract financing for a “community grid” concept, Parker Ranch CEO Neil “Dutch” Kuyper said in a press release.

The release noted that electricity rates from Big Island utility Hawaii Electric Light Co. are consistently more than 37 cents per kilowatt-hour — and often more than 40 cents — despite nearly half of the island’s power being generated from renewable sources.

It said the average cost of power nationwide last year was 12.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

“We think that the residents and businesses of the Big Island could be better served by a series of community solutions with regional level distributed generation focusing on our plentiful renewable resources,” Kuyper said.

He said because of the island’s size, a combination of several regional grids would make logical sense.

Kuyper said Paniolo Power has begun discussions with potential operators and financers of such an effort.

“We are pleased and excited about the inquiries that we have received in recent months to co-invest in our concept,” he said.

Parker Ranch will present the preliminary findings of the plan at a meeting of the Waimea Community Association scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Thursday at the Waimea School cafeteria.

Parker Ranch recently also announced a partnership with Ulupono Initiative, an investment firm started by EBay founder Pierre Omidyar, to form the Paniolo Cattle Company, a venture aimed at providing grass-fed beef statewide.

Founded in 1847, Parker Ranch is one of the largest cattle ranches in the nation.

In 1992, with the death of sixth generation descendant Richard Palmer Smart, the ranch became a charitable trust for the benefit of the Parker School Trust Corporation, Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy, Hawai‘i Community Foundation’s Richard Smart Fund, and North Hawai‘i Community Hospital.

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