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Parker Ranch, NextEra Energy agree to develop wind energy projects on Hawaii’s Big Island

Parker Ranch’s nonprofit arm and a subsidiary of Florida-based NextEra Energy have entered into an agreement to develop wind energy projects on the Big Island of Hawaii, the two companies said Friday.

NextEra Energy Resources, a wholesale electricity supplier and subsidiary of NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE), which is buying Hawaiian Electric Co. for $4.3 billion, has locked in long-term access rights to Parker Ranch Foundation Trust lands to develop renewable energy projects.

“We have been aggressively seeking ways to reduce the cost of electricity for our community and our island by using the potential renewable energy resources available on PRFT’s Hawaii Island lands,” Neil “Dutch” Kuyper, president and CEO of Parker Ranch, said in a statement. “During this time, we have also been seeking capital and technical expertise from potential development partners. We have been working collaboratively with NextEra Energy Resources for more than a year and believe that they are the ideal partner to utilize PRFT’s wind resources.”

In 2013, Parker Ranch in Waimea, which is the largest ranch in Hawaii, with more than 100,000 acres, began a utility-grade integrated resource planning effort with help from Siemens, Booz Allen Hamilton and Pace Global to evaluate alternative energy strategies for Parker Ranch and the surrounding communities of Waimea and North Kohala as well as the Big Island.

“Our work with Siemens identified several valuable scenarios utilizing PRFT’s wind resources, combined with storage, that could drive down electricity rates and cut our excessive vulnerability to volatile imported oil prices,” said Kuyper. “Reducing Hawaii Island electricity rates, slashing our reliance on imported oil and decreasing carbon emissions are all important to us because the cost of energy is tied to everything we do.”

Through its Paniolo Power Co. subsidiary, Parker Ranch said it is continuing to evaluate the merits of pumped-storage hydro and the economics of utility-scale battery solutions in the generation mix.

The potential for renewable energy on the trust’s lands is unique on the island and in the state due to the size and scale of the wind resource, Parker Ranch said.