The island of Ta’u in American Samoa, located more than 4,000 miles from the West Coast of the United States, has undergone a transformation.
The island used to use diesel fuel to power itself, using as much as 300 gallons of fuel a day (109,500 a year!). Now, with the help of Tesla/Solar City, the island has been retrofitted to use a solar array and battery packs for its full energy use.
Funded by the American Samoa Economic Development Authority, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior, this was an opportunity for Tesla to show us what they can do with a government contract. And do, they did. The island can maintain electricity even if the sun is hidden for three days.
They also no longer have to import expensive diesel fuel.
Home to 600 residents, the $8 million project has ensured that they will not be screwed by lack of fuel shipments. Before the solar upgrade, they would, sometimes, wait on shipments of fuel that could be months late, forcing them to ration electricity of suffer power outages.
"Factoring in the escalating cost of fuel, along with transporting such mass quantities to the small island, the financial impact is substantial," says Peter Rive, SolarCity co-founder and CTO. He pointed out that the microgrid also eliminates "the hazards of power intermittency" and makes "outages a thing of the past."
The island is now running off of 1.4 megawatts of solar generation capacity (or 5,328 solar panels) and 6 megawatt hours of battery storage from 60 Tesla Powerpacks.