Blog: A taste of what you may find on Maui

How is Maui’s electricity generated?

Have you ever wondered how Maui generates its electricity? I’m sure you’ve seen the windmills above Ma’alaea harbor. How much power comes from wind? And what about those solar panels?

The State of Hawaii aims to generate 100% of its power from renewable resources by 2045. That is currently 21 years away. As of 2021 Maui County had reached 50% renewable production and has been fluctuating a bit since, in part due to changes in demand and of course the availability of wind and sun.

graphic from Hawaii Electric

So how is all this power generated?

Photo-voltaic

Drive around Maui and you will see many solar panels on rooftops. Starting in 2010 Hawaii mandated solar water heaters on all new-home construction. Our home was built in 2006 and has a solar water heater. In 2011 we added our first array of solar panels, adding more panels a few years later. We are fortunate to have reduced our power bill to zero (except for the connection charge).

Many condo associations and hotels have added solar to their roofs and carports which helps reduce but definitely does not cover their power bills. Maui County’s electricity cost currently sits at 42 cents/kwh, so every bit helps.

There are some solar farms, the newest of which has been installed on Mahi Pono lands just west of Kahului. You may have seen their array as you flew in.

Mahi Pono’s solar farm is circled in red, as seen from Kamehameha Golf Course (private)
Windmills

Did you know there are actually two windmill farms on Maui? The one at Maalaea Harbor is very visible. There is another on the South side of Maui, just past Bully’s burger food truck along the backroad to Hana. If you haven’t been to Bully’s, I highly recommend it!

the windmills along the backside of the Road to Hana
Diesel plant

We still have two diesel power plants on Maui. The Kahului plant was built in 1948, the Ma’alaea plant in 1977. Both plants sit in the flood zone which is always a concern when tsunamis or hurricanes are passing through. I’m told both plants are slated to be closed down in the next few years as they can no longer source parts for the engines. By the way, check my blog on what to expect and do in disaster situations.

Biomass

The Hawaii Electric graph shows Maui having a small amount of biomass, but I haven’t been able to find information on it online. There was talk of the Pu’unene dump burning biomass, but I’m not sure if that ever happened.

Should you rent an electric car while on Maui?

Well, that depends. You will see a fair number of electric vehicles here on Maui. And Hertz will certainly rent you one. However, I’ve heard anecdotally that many of the charge stations are out of service. On the US mainland there are apps to find charging stations. I don’t know if they work on Maui, so I recommend checking into that prior to renting an EV. If you’ve recently rented an EV on Maui, I’d love to hear about your experience!