Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

Solar-powered Rainbow

November 10th, 2014
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Rainbow Drive-In installed a solar PV system that should shave 60 percent off its electricity bill once it's up and running. The solar array extends over beams that create shaded parking. Photo by Nina Wu.

Rainbow Drive-In installed a solar PV system that should shave 60 percent off its electricity bill once it's up and running. The solar array extends over beams — a solar canopy — that also offers shaded parking. Photo by Nina Wu.

Rainbow Drive-In, a longtime favorite in Kapahulu, has gone solar.

You may have actually parked  beneath the solar canopy, which provides shaded parking while supporting photovoltaic panels. While the 56.1-kilowatt system installed by Kama‘aina Solar Solutions hasn't been activated yet, it's expected to save the favorite plate lunch spot about 60 percent on its monthly electricity bill once it is.

And that's no small bill, at an average of $5,500 a month, according to owner and vice president Jim Gusukuma.

So the neon rainbow, fridges and other appliances at Rainbow Drive-In will all be solar-powered. Loco moco and milkshakes powered by sunshine-generated power in sunny Kapahulu – that's pretty cool.

Since there wasn't enough rooftop space for all 184 panels, Kama‘aina created the solar canopy. The canopy created shade for a few additional tables for the drive-in plus covered parking. It's a brilliant design idea, plus it qualifies for the 30 percent federal solar tax credit.

It's a smart move for the small, family-run business founded by Seiji Ifuku in 1961. Back then, you could get 50-cent chili with rice plate, 25-cent hamburgers and 14-cent French fries. Today, Rainbow Drive-In is one of the few places you can still get a hearty plate lunch for under $10.

The Rain Bowls (clockwise, from top, teri pork, boneless Rain Bowls, clockwise, from top, teri pork, boneless fried chicken, chili frank, and teri beef, are photographed inside the Hawaii's Favorite Kitchens store (Sun, Sept. 14 photo, Honolulu Star-Advertiser/Jamm Aquino).

The Rain Bowls (clockwise, from top, teri pork, boneless fried chicken, chili frank, and teri beef, are photographed inside the Hawaii's Favorite Kitchens store (Sun, Sept. 14 photo, Honolulu Star-Advertiser/Jamm Aquino).

When the landlord offered a 25-year lease, Gusukuma said it allowed the small business to make improvements. Solar was at the top of the list.

The drive-in at 3308 Kanaina Ave., which was featured on Guy Fieri's "Drivers, Dine-ins and Dives"  expanded its offerings earlier this year, as detailed in this Honolulu Pulse post . At Hawaii's Favorite Kitchens next door (3111 Castle St.), you can now get Rainbowls (with brown or white rice), the KC waffle dog, a Poke Stop bowl or pick up some huli huli chicken from Hoku BBQ chicken.

In today's Green Leaf column, Gusukuma (who also drives an electric BMW i3) said: "I think, eventually, solar is the cleanest way to go. If you're able to do it, you have that obligation for the future."

Here's to another 50 years for Rainbow Drive-In, open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

View of the solar canopy at Rainbow Drive-In from underneath. Photos by Nina Wu.

View of the solar canopy at Rainbow Drive-In from underneath. Photo by Nina Wu.

WEfficiency again

November 5th, 2014
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The Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii is using WEfficiency to raise funds for more efficient lighting at its Clubhouses in Waianae, Ewa Beach and McCully. Courtesy photo.

The Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii is using WEfficiency to raise funds for more efficient lighting at its Clubhouses in Waianae, Ewa Beach and McCully. Courtesy photo.

It seems as if crowdfunding is everywhere these days — it's the new approach to fundraising, whether it's for a new documentary film, book, or even to make a potato salad.

WEfficiency is a new online fundraising platform that can make a real impact for local non-profits in Hawaii. You either make a donation or a loan that is repaid using a portion of the energy cost savings. The lender has the option of recycling the loan to another project.

The Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii partnered with the Blue Planet Foundation to launch its energy efficiency campaign seeking $60,000 to install high-efficiency lighting at its Clubhouses in Waianae, Ewa Beach and McCully. If successful, the funds would save about $18,000 a year in energy costs.

The campaign kicked off at the Art + Flea in Kakaako on Thursday, Oct. 30 and lasts until Tuesday, Dec. 30.

"By increasing energy efficiency at our facilities, we reduce energy cost and free up resources to better serve our keiki and provide them with programs that will help them to become responsible citizens of their communities," said BGCH president and CEO Tim Motts.

Hawaii Public Radio, the YWCA of Honolulu and Damien Memorial School have all funded energy efficiency projects successfully through WEfficiency.

 

Gubernatorial candidates on solar

November 3rd, 2014
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LanikaiSolar

So where do Hawaii's gubernatorial candidates stand on solar and accessibility to solar?

The Green Leaf made the following queries a week ago, and down to the wire, here are how candidates Jeff Davis (Libertarian), former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann (Independent), former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona (Republican) and Sen. David Ige (Democrat) responded, in the order that they were received.

The candidates aired their perspectives earlier, including their views on LNG (liquefied natural gas), in an Oct. 14 Gubernatorial Forum on Clean Energy for Hawaii's Future hosted by ThinkTech Hawaii at the Laniakea YWCA.

In Florida, the "Sunshine State," solar has become a major rallying point for the race between the state's current governor, Rick Scott, and former governor, Charlie Crist. Energy, and the source of energy, for the Aloha State, is no doubt just as crucial, given that our electricity rates are three times higher than the national average.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 4, is the last opportunity to vote, if you did not vote early or by absentee. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit our voter guide to find out where to vote.

Do you feel HECO's action plan filed Aug. 26 is fair to solar PV customers in Hawaii, as well as to regular electricity customers in Hawaii?

Jeff Davis, solar contractor, radio talk show host, Libertarian

Since last Sept. 6, 2013, the PV world in Hawaii and our  bright future has come completely screeching to a halt. Now to suggest that there be two classes of rateplayers, and that certain people be grandfathered in is the continuance of absurdity with which the Hawaiian Electric Industries has dealt with its competitor, the PV industry, in general. Because we are their competitor.

Mufi Hannemann, former Honolulu mayor, Independent

HECO’s plan is seriously deficient, as the Public Utilities Commission made plain in its comments on the plan (Docket 2014-0183). In particular it has failed to embrace the full potential of renewable energy resources and it continues to rely far too heavily on fossil fuels. Electricity prices in Hawaii are 300% higher than the mainland. This is hurting families and businesses.

We need a much more proactive approach, one that encompasses solar and wind to the fullest extent possible and is open to geothermal power, the one energy resource that can really move the needle on fossil dependence and provide cheap, clean, renewable energy in very large amounts 24 hours a day. We need a smart inter-island grid that is more flexible, more efficient and can accept power generation from all sources.

Solar PV customers, all electricity customers, are being short changed by our current approach. And it is a self-defeating and ultimately pointless exercise to pit one set of customers against another. The job of the Governor is to ensure we free ourselves of our dependence of foreign oil, invest in alternative energy sources, build a new grid and lower electricity prices.

Duke Aiona, former Lt. Gov., Republican

If we have to change the system by creating a separate utility for transmission and distribution, in order to make alternative energies like solar more accessible to the community then I would consider that an option as well as neighborhood and community coops, which would empower neighborhoods as opposed to pitting them against one another.

David Ige, state senator, electrical engineer, Democrat

Did not respond to questions.

What will you do to help ease the hurdles faced by middle-class families that want to invest in solar but are faced with greater costs for doing so imposed by HEI (HECO, MECO, HELCO)? How will you help the 3,500 or more customers who invested their hard-earned money into solar PV systems but are still waiting to get connected to the grid, as well as those who have had to wait more than nine months?

Jeff Davis

In the simplest of terms, HEI must be taken out of the pay-to-play role. They cannot serve two masters — their shareholders and the public.  HEI must be, with aloha and grace, taken into a for-public coop and removed from being traded as a stock entity. There's no solving any of these problems without tackling the problem of a for-profit monopoly.

Mufi Hannemann

We are deeply concerned at the delays and uncertainties concerning HECO's ability to connect solar PV systems to the grid. The PUC should require HECO to immediately remediate the situation, and to impost penalties if they cannot comply. Otherwise, with federal subsidies for PV systems scheduled to end in 2016, possibly up to 200 Megawatts of commercial solar power production may now not go forward in Hawaii. This is unconscionable.

Duke Aiona

I believe that the presumption should be changed. HECO should have to prove that solar installations can not be connected to the grid, rather than the solar customer having to prove it can be. HECO has the resources and the ability. Why should the responsibility be on the consumer?

David Ige

Did not respond to questions.

How do you plan to keep the Public Utilities Commission, and HECO, accountable in genuinely implementing Hawaii's Clean Energy Initiative? How will you help us reach those goals?

Jeff Davis

Number one, for the interim between taking HEI to a coop, we need to beef up the budget and personnel of the PUC. We need to take the PUC's appointments away from the political party in power and perhaps we should put the PUC members on a ballot and elect them.

Mufi Hannemann

The PUC's mandate should be expanded to actively promote the development and distribution of all renewable energy resources. It must require HECO to invest meaningfully in renewables and hold it accountable by basing its rate decisions on performance against quantified goals not costs. We should give the PUC the resources it needs to do its job and stop the State from raiding its funds for other purposes.

Duke Aiona

The PUC deserves to be supported by the administration with resources and direction. My direction to the PUC will be to consider all options that reduce the cost of energy in Hawaii, while being sensitive to the environment.

David Ige

Did not respond to questions.

SolarcourtesyBPF

Window A/C rebates

September 25th, 2014
By



 

WindowAC

Summer's officially over, but if you're still trying to cool your heels in the isles, Hawaii Energy is offering $50 rebates for anyone who trades up to an EnergyStar-rated window air conditioner.

Hawaii Energy, a ratepayer-funded energy conservation and efficiency program, is offering a $50 rebate for individuals who swap out an old working unit for a more energy efficient one. They're available on a first-come, first-served basis, but the perk is free pick-up and haul-away of the old A/C unit.

The rebates are available on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island, but not Lanai or Molokai (sorry, folks).

To qualify, your unit must be EnergyStar rated and have an energy efficiency ratio of 10.8 or higher.

It's easy.

1. Pick up an application at the time of purchase of an EnergyStar A/C unit from participating retailers, including Lowe's, Sears, NEX, Home Depot and City Mill.

2. Schedule a pick-up of your old A/C unit for recycling by calling 537-5577 or (877) 231-8222.

3. Send your completed rebate application and original receipt via snail mail to Hawaii Energy, P.O. Box 3920, Honolulu, HI 96812. The rebate should arrive in the mail in eight to 10 weeks.

The switch could save you about $80 per year on your electric bill (though savings vary depending on the make, model and usage of your window A/C unit).

If you're getting a split-air A/C system, there are $150 rebates available for variable refrigerant flow air conditioners up to 24,000 BTU, and $250 rebates for units from 24,001 to 36,000 BTU. They must have a minimum SEER rating of 16.

Questions? See if the answer is in the FAQ list.

 

Crowdfunding works for YWCA

July 22nd, 2014
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The YWCA of Oahu, which raised its goal of nearly $15,000 for a lighting efficiency project through WEfficiency.

The YWCA of Oahu, which raised its goal of nearly $15,000 for a lighting efficiency project through WEfficiency. Photo courtesy YWCA of Oahu.

The Blue Planet Foundation's WEfficiency crowdfunding platform has paid off for the YWCA of Oahu's Laniakea facility at 1040 Richards St.

Through Wefficiency, the YWCA was able to obtain a combination of donations and loans for nearly $15,000 for a high efficiency lighting project. The lighting upgrade is expected to shave about $8,500 a year on the electricity bill.

"The YWCA of Oahu is so humbled by the overwhelming support of the community in funding our WEfficiency campaign," said YWCA's director of fund development Wendy Chang. "The money we save on energy will go directly into the services that help to empower women from all walks of life."

A portion of savings will be used to pay back loans, with the first repayments within six months. Loanators can shift the loan to another non-profit group's campaign, if they desire, via WEfficiency.

For instance, Damien Memorial School and Hawaii Public Radio, are also campaigning for energy-efficient retrofits via WEfficiency.  Damien needs another $8,000 to reach a $12,000 goal. HPR needs another $5,000 for its $11,000 goal.

If you're a non-profit interested in participating in WEfficiency, email info@weffiency.org

Free pilot energy program

June 4th, 2014
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Hawaii Energy and People Power are looking for 600 Oahu residents to test out its home energy management system for a year. For free. Courtesy image.

Hawaii Energy and People Power are looking for 600 Oahu residents to test out its home energy management system for a year. For free. Courtesy image.

Ouch. The Hawaiian Electric Co. is raising everyone's monthly bill by an average of $4.89 as part of a "decoupling" move. It won't matter whether you used more or less for the month — everyone is going to have to foot that extra fee. That's the bad news.

But there's some good news.

There's a cool technology being offered by Hawaii Energy (a ratepayer-funded conservation and efficiency program) in partnership with a Palo Alto, Calif.-based tech company called People Power. And they're offering it for up to 600 Oahu residents, for free.

That's right. Free.

There's not much you can get for free any more these days. People Power is looking for 600 Oahu residents to test out a home energy management system for a year, which can potentially save participants as much as 20 percent on their electric bill. The system comes with a mobile app — called Presence (which turns iOS devices into remotely monitored video cameras) — and Monster Central smart plugs. They're valued at about $300 or more.

By the end of the program, participants get to keep the Presence Pro Energy kit.

But there are only about half of the spaces left, and you do need to qualify.

To qualify, you need a smartphone or tablet, a home WiFi connection with an available port on your Wireless Internet router. You can still qualify even if you have solar water or solar PV.

Sign up at www.Oahu.PresencePro.com.

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WEfficiency: Crowdfunding to help non-profits

May 30th, 2014
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Crowdfunding is such the thing to do these days.

Now, with the Blue Planet Foundation's launch of WEfficiency, you can donate or loan money to a non-profit group, specifically with the intention of helping it become more energy-efficient.

It's a win-win because a $1 donation can turn into $4 in energy savings. A $10,000 lighting retrofit, for example, can save the non-profit up to $40,000 over its lifetime. The non-profit's investment in energy efficiency measures results in immediate energy savings.

You can opt to give the non-profit a loan (called a "loanation") and get your money back, or you can give an outright donation.

loanation

The first three non-profits that are giving WEfficiency a shot are YWCA Laniakea, Damien Memorial School and Hawaii Public Radio.

To boost the kick-off of WEfficiency, Hawaii Energy, a ratepayer-funded energy conservation program , is offering matching "loanations."

Gov. Neil Abercrombie joined Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the Blue Planet foundation board of directors in presenting the first "loanations" to representatives from the three non-profit groups last Thursday (May 22) to kick off the program.

In 2013, WEfficiecy, which was developed by Honolulu-based solutions agency Sudokrew, was formally recognized as a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action.

To make a "loanation," visit www.wefficiency.org.

 

Hands Across the Sand Rally

May 15th, 2014
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SF-TwoFutures-Poster'14

World champion bodysurfer and lifeguard Mark Cunningham, left, with IV full of oil attached to his arm. Longboard champ Kelia Moniz, seated, right. Poster and campaign by Surfrider Foundation's Rafael Bergstrom.

The Surfrider Foundation, Sierra Club and Livable Communities Hawaii are hosting a Hands Across the Sand Rally from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Ala Moana Beach Park this Saturday (May 17).

Participants will join hands and form a long line in the sand to say "No" to dirty fossil fuels and "Yes" to clean, renewable energy. There will also be guest speakers, food and networking.

Hands Across the Sand, established four years ago after the disastrous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, is held each year at beaches and coastal areas across the U.S. and the world. The goal, according to founder Dave Rauschkolb, is to "bring organizations and individuals together to send a powerful message to leaders that expanding oil drilling in our oceans is a dirty, dangerous endeavor."

"Every oil spill endangers the coastal tourism industries, ravages the sea life and seafood industry and impacts the lives of every person in its path for generations."

Participants in Honolulu hope to send a clear signal to government officials and the Hawaiian Electric Co. management that it's time to move beyond the state's costly dependence on imported oil and toward locally produced energy sources.

"Here in Hawaii, this issue is especially urgent because our utility is slowing the rate of solar adoption," said Caitlin Pomerantz of the Sierra Club in a press release. "Meanwhile, electricity rates are skyrocketing as we continue to get over 90 percent of our energy from imported fossil fuels. Increasing access to rooftop solar helps Hawaii achieve energy independence, lower energy costs and reduce our contribution to climate change; that's why 94 percent of Hawaii residents support it."

Participants at the rally will start a petition to hold HECO accountable for a deadline set by the Public Utilities Commission, which directs it to speed up the adoption of rooftop solar within the next 120 days.

To learn more about the Hands Across the Sand Rally, visit www.fb.com/events/461571387310260/

 

 

Rally for clean energy

April 30th, 2014
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Hundreds of students showed up for a clean energy rally on Earth Day (April 22). Courtesy photo.

Hundreds of students showed up for a clean energy rally on Earth Day (April 22). Courtesy photo.

It's great to see students taking an active part in their own future.

On Earth Day (April 22), more than 270 middle school, high school and university students converged at Hawaii State Capitol for a clean energy rally hosted by the Blue Planet Foundation.

They waved signs along Beretania Street, advocating for a clean energy future powered by local, renewable energy sources to end Hawaii's dependency on fossil fuels.

Blue Planet believes it is critical for Hawaii to embrace innovative clean energy strategies now more than ever. Time is running out, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has issued three reports in the last seven months.

Students from throughout Oahu — both public and private  — including Farrington High School, Waialua High and Intermediate, Nanakuli High and Intermediate, Leilehua High School, Hawaii Pacific University, Hongwanji Mission School, ‘Iolani School and Le Jardin Academy, participated.

They collaborated with artists DrewToonz and Michal Abramovitz to create  signs saying, "We have the power" and "We are the future."

Rep. Chris Lee, Blue Planet founder Henk Rogers, and students at the Clean Energy Rally on April 22, 2014 (Earth Day). Courtesy photo.

Rep. Chris Lee, Blue Planet founder Henk Rogers, and students at the Clean Energy Rally on April 22, 2014 (Earth Day). Courtesy photo.

"These students will inherit the consequences of the choices we're making and the actions we're taking today," said Blue Planet Foundation CEO Jeff Mikulina. "They realize it's their future at stake, and they see the opportunity in switching from dirty energy to clean energy, from dependence to independence.

Among clean energy policies under consideration this session is Senate Bill 2934, a measure to establish a community solar program. The program would enable renters, residents living in condos and apartments, and homeowners on saturated circuits to invest in solar electricity located off their property. Similar programs have been enacted in 10 other states.

To learn more, visit blueplanetfoundation.org/communitysolar.

Students from Le Jardin Academy hold up signs saying, "We are the future." Courtesy photo.

Students from Le Jardin Academy hold up signs saying, "We are the future." Courtesy photo.

Hawaii businesses: Save energy plus LED exit signs

March 31st, 2014
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Universal LED Exit sign from www.simplyexitsigns.com.

Universal LED Exit sign from www.simplyexitsigns.com. Swapping to an LED exit sign can save a business substantial electricity costs plus qualify for a $40 rebate from Hawaii Energy.

Attention, Hawaii businesses.

Did you know swapping out your older, incandescent exit sign for an LED one can save you $80 to $100 a year? It's a no-brainer. Plus Hawaii Energy's offering up to $40 in additional incentive to businesses that do so from now until May 31.

An Energy Star LED exit sign uses only about 44 kilowatt hours annually compared to 350 kilowatt hours for an incandescent sign — about 87 percent in savings.

It's as simple as that.

The exit signs, a legally-required safety feature in case of an emergency, are on 24 hours a day throughout the year.

Businesses must complete an application and submit a paid invoice or show proof of purchase to qualify for the incentive.

Also, Hawaii Energy is offering small businesses and restaurants an opportunity to replace their old lighting with newer, energy-efficient ones for free from now until June 9. Incandescent bulbs and halogen lighting are swapped out for CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) and LEDs (light-emitting diodes).

To qualify, businesses must have an individual meter and be on an electric rate schedule G, or occupy a workspace of less than 5,000 square feet. Restaurants on any electric rate schedule or of any size can qualify.

Pagoda took advantage of Hawaii Energy's lighting retrofit program to save costs. Courtesy photo.

Pagoda took advantage of Hawaii Energy's lighting retrofit program to save costs. Courtesy photo.

Pagoda Floating Restaurant participated in the program, and expects to save about $14,400 a year.

Visit www.hawaiienergy.com/retrofit to apply.

Lighting can account for nearly half of a retail businesses' overall electricity costs at 48 percent. For offices, it's about 27 percent, and for restaurants, about 18 percent.

Hawaii Energy's Small Business Direct Install Lighting program, launched in July 2011, has helped 1,790 small businesses and restaurants throughout the state — from hardware stores to surf shops, art galleries and bakeries. The program provides free consultation, lighting and installation.

Hawaii Energy is a ratepayer-funded energy conservation and efficiency program serving the isles of Hawaii, Lanai, Maui, Molokai and Oahu.

Visit www.hawaiienergy.com/lighting or call 839-8800 to learn more. On neighbor isles, call 877-231-8222.