Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

Hawaii businesses: Save energy plus LED exit signs

March 31st, 2014

Universal LED Exit sign from

Universal LED Exit sign from 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 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 or call 839-8800 to learn more. On neighbor isles, call 877-231-8222.

Clean energy jobs

March 12th, 2014

Star-Advertiser file photo.

Workers install a solar photovoltaic panel on to a rooftop. Star-Advertiser file photo.

Let's hear it for clean energy jobs.

Hawaii ranked no. 3 among the top 10 states for clean energy job postings last year, and was also among the top 10 in the fourth quarter of last year, according to a report by nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2).

California ranked No. 1, followed by Texas at No. 2.

But there's certainly room for improvement.

The E2 report cites a survey revealing overwhelming public support for solar energy as well as opposition to a hookup fee in Hawaii. HECO, meanwhile, seeks approval for six more renewable energy projects in the state.

Click here for the Brookings fact sheet detailing clean job growth and wages in Hawaii. Brookings ranked Hawaii 45th among 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of its overall size (with 11,113 clean jobs). The estimated median wage in Hawaii's clean economy is $42,235 compared to $38,615 for all jobs in Hawaii.

Among the statewide facts the E2 report listed for Hawaii:

>> Hawaii has 916 megawatt hours of renewable generation, with the potential for 2.9 million Gigawatt hours (equal to 1 billion watt hours)of renewable energy.

>> A sampling of Hawaii job announcements include positions for a solar facility on Kauai, a retrofit of state airports, a wind farm on Oahu and a solar farm at Kalealoa.

There was no mention of Oahu's rail transit project.

Nationwide, Environmental Entrepreneurs tracked more than 78, 600 clean energy and clean transportation job announcements in 2013. Solar power generation was the year's top sector, with more than 21,600 jobs announced. Other strong sectors included building efficiency and public transportation.

"Our report makes it clear," said E2 executive director Judith Albert. "When we invest in clean energy and clean transportation, we put people to work in every corner of the country. Whether it's a new wind farm in Iowa, an energy efficiency retrofit in Massachusetts, or a utility-scale solar array in Nevada, these projects require American ingenuity and labor. The sector is helping stimulate our economy."

See the full report at

Solar Love

February 14th, 2014


"Roses are red, violets are blue. I like my energy green. How about you?"

Today, Valentine's Day, customers plan to send "love notes" to dozens of Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO), Maui Electric Co. (MECO) and Hawaii Electric Light (HELCO) employees.

The customers are lamenting the fact that they are still waiting — to connect their rooftop solar photovoltaic systems — to the grid.

A recent poll demonstrated that 96 percent of people in Hawaii support or strongly support efforts to make solar power more available, according to Robert Harris, director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii.

"We hope hundreds of customer voices will cause Hawaiian Electric employees to feel the solar love, and commit to building a modern, 21st century grid that can handle more intermittent power," said Harris in a press release.

House Bill 1943 requires the Public Utilities Commission to initiate a proceeding no later than July 1, discussing upgrades to the Hawaii electric system for anticipated growth in solar electricity generated by customers. The bill is making its way through the Hawaii State Legislature's House.

Rather than frame the issue as a battle between solar PV customers and non-solar PV customers (because non-solar customers will have to subsidize upgrades to the system), we should be asking why HECO isn't taking the responsibility of modernizing the grid.

I love solar, and I want you to have it (and love it), too. XOXO


Solar parking arrays

January 23rd, 2014

Covered parking solar array at Liliha Square provides shade and lowers electricity costs. Courtesy image.

Covered parking solar array at Liliha Square provides shade and lowers electricity costs. Courtesy image.

There's a cool new trend in Honolulu's parking structures.

RevoluSun just installed a 155-kilowatt solar PV system atop a carport at Liliha Square Shopping Center. While it's not the first carport solar array for Oahu, it's a growing trend among Honolulu commercial property owners, according to the solar company.

It makes sense.

After all, why not use the top space of a parking structure as a way to lower your utility costs while providing shade?

RevoluSun can also create a custom-designed cover for an open parking structure.

Last year, the company created a shaded, waterproof roof for the top level of the uncovered parking structure at AIPA (Airport Industrial Park Associates). The 280-kilowatt system helps AIPA save money on its overall electricity costs.

"Essentially, business owners are killing three birds with one stone," said RevoluSun principal Eric Carlson. "by creating shade from the hot Hawaiian sun and in some cases, a waterproof roof from our frequent Hawaiian drizzles; the solar panels generate clean, renewable electricity; and saves the owner money on their electric bills."

Other parking structure solar systems by RevoluSun:

>> Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, 280-kilowatt system.

>> HECO Ward Avenue Charging Station, nine-panels, with a battery storage system.

Double rates for rid-a-fridge

January 22nd, 2014


Still procrastinating on plans to get rid of your old fridge?

Hawaii Energy is giving you some motivation — it is now offering $50, double the $25 rebate originally offered for outdated, energy-hogging refrigerators and freezers.

Free curbside pick-up is available.

According to Hawaii Energy, fridges and freezers built prior to 1993 are energy hogs that cost two to three times more to operate than a new EnergyStar model. Taking those old units off the electric grid can save Oahu resident as much as $275 (based on current electricity rates) on the annual bill.

Residents can also donate the rebate to Hawaii Foodbank by simply checking a box on the application provided by the hauler at the time of refrigerator pick-up.

All Oahu residential electric utility customers are eligible. To qualify, fridges and freezers must be full-size and in working condition. Since Hawaii Energy launched its "Bounty Program" in August 2011, approximately 1,792 refrigerators and freezers have been recycled, keeping them out of landfills.

Rid-a-Fridge, fight hunger

January 16th, 2014

Rebates (and free pick up services) are available from Hawaii Energy for getting rid of your old fridge. You can also opt to donate your rebate to Hawaii Foodbank.

Get rid of your old fridge and help feed the hungry in Hawaii at the same time.

Hawaii Energy is offering a $25 rebate for Oahu residents who donate aging refrigerators with free pick up. On Maui and Hawaii island, Hawaii Energy is offering a $65 rebate.

By simply checking a box on the rebate application form, you can donate your rebate to the Hawaii Foodbank. The promotion continues while funding lasts. If you want to keep your rebate, of course, you may.

Replacing your old refrigerator with a newer, EnergyStar one can result in savings on your overall electricity bill (even if you have PV solar). Hawaii Energy estimates that fridges more than 20 years old can cost $275 to operate on Oahu each year. On Maui, because electricity rates are higher, they can cost $320 to operate each year. And on Hawaii island, $355 to operate each year.

On Oahu, call 537-5577 and on Maui and Hawaii island, call 1-877-231-8222 to schedule a free pickup. Afterwards, complete your application and send it in. If you'd like to donate your rebate, just check the "I'd like to make a difference" box. You will receive your application during pick up, which must be postmarked within 60 days.

Holiday energy-saving tips

December 30th, 2013


It's been a sunny holiday season in Honolulu, so rejoice if you have solar panels. If you don't, then put it on your New Year's resolution list because it's not too late — many solar contractors are offering informational sessions to help you navigate the new rules for solar PV installation.

Federal and state tax credits are still available, so there's no reason to delay.

Meanwhile, here are some holiday energy-saving tips from Hawaii Energy.


Use ENERGY STAR LED light strings, which use about 70 to 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent strings. (I was surprised to see some ads for incandescent holiday lights out there). Even if they are on sale, consider the energy savings you will reap from LED lights — which can also be found at a good price. I bet they're on sale now that Christmas is over.

Limit the Time of Outdoor Lights

Use a timer to automatically turn off indoor or outdoor Christmas lighting displays.


Keep Oven Doors Closed

Ovens lose about 25 degrees requiring additional energy to bring the temperature back up. Use the smallest pan and burner needed for the job. Cook with lids on your pans (cooking pasta without a lid can use three times as much energy).


Keep the refrigerator door closed, too. Refrigerators get a real workout during the holidays and remains the second largest energy consumer in your home. Keep the doors closed as much as possible and try not to cram too much food at once (tough when you have a turkey in there).


Only wash full loads, use cold water (which requires less energy) and air dry as much as possible.

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First Wind Scholarships

December 17th, 2013

Wind turbine from First Wind's Kahuku wind farm. First Wind is now accepting applications from students located in schools near its wind farms on Oahu and Maui. Photo by Nina Wu.

Wind turbine from First Wind's Kahuku wind farm. By Nina Wu.

Boston-based First Wind, which has two wind farms on Oahu and one wind farm on Maui, announced the availability of applications for its 2014 scholarship program.

Qualified high school seniors in communities where the company has projects are invited to apply. This is the fifth year First Wind is offering the scholarships.

Carol Grant, First Wind's senior vice president of external affairs, says the company has committed nearly $250,000 to 59 students over the past four years.

High school seniors in both public and private schools in the communities of Laie, Kahuku, Wahiawa, Waialua, Haleiwa and Sunset on Oahu or Kahului, Lahaina, Kihei and Wailuku, Maui are invited to apply.

To apply, students must have a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 2.75, with plans to enroll in full-time undergraduate study with a focus in the sciences, technology and/or engineering. Other states where students can apply include Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Utah, Vermont and Washington.

First Wind Scholars will be awarded a one-time $3,000 scholarship for one year. One scholarship of $5,000, renewable up to four years, will be awarded to the year's single most qualified applicant.

First Wind operates wind farms at Kahuku and Kawailoa, both on Oahu's north shore, as well as Kaheawa on the ridgeline of the West Maui Mountains.

Applications are available online, and will be evaluated on a number of factors, including academic performance, work experience, school and community activities and a 300-word essay. Submissions are due by Feb. 15, 2014. Recipients will be announced in May 2014.

Molokai Fridge Swap

October 21st, 2013

Delivering Energy Efficient fridges to households in Molokai as part of the Hui Up! program. Courteys photo.

Makoa Trucking helped deliver energy efficient fridges to households in Molokai as part of the Hui Up! program. Courtesy photo.

Let's hear it for brand-new, energy-efficient fridges on the Friendly Isle!

A total of 60 EnergyStar refrigerators were delivered to Molokai residents earlier this week as part of Hui UP! 3.0, an appliance exchange program offered through a partnership between Blue Planet Foundation, Hawaii Energy and Sust‘AINAble Moloka‘i.

Molokai residents were able to swap in their old fridges for a high-efficiency model for just $250, considerably less than retail prices. Pick up of old fridges, recycling and home delivery was included.

Francois Rogers, Blue Planet's special projects director, says the foundation is hoping to reach as many as 300 households on Molokai.

Sust‘AINAble Molokai helped with on-the-ground logistics, with help from Sears, Makoa Trucking, Island Movers and Refrigerant Recycling.

The Hui Up! program is a follow up to a CFL exchange program that replaced 36,000 incandescent bulbs on Molokai with Compact Fluorescent Lamps. As part of Hui Up! students from the Sust‘AINAble Molokai Youth Energy Team will visit the households and using hand-held energy monitors, they will measure the differences in energy usage.

Participants are expected to save an average of $374 a year (based on Molokai's electricity rate of 46 cents per kilowatt hour) on their individual electric bills. Collectively, over the next 10 years, 300 households would save more than $1.1 million in energy costs.

If you live on Molokai and are interested in participating in Hui UP!, visit or call 560-5410.

Solar power for shelter dogs

October 17th, 2013

Dogs at the Hawaiian Humane Society can now enjoy warm baths thanks to cost savings from a solar water heater donated by Bonterra Solar. Courtesy photo.

Dogs at the Hawaiian Humane Society can now enjoy warm baths thanks to cost savings from a solar water heater donated by Bonterra Solar. Courtesy photo.

Every shivering dog can now enjoy a warm bath at the Hawaiian Humane Society, thanks to the donation of a solar hot water heating system from Bonterra Solar.

The solar hot water heater will help make the warm baths possible, as well as save energy costs for the pet laundry center and dishwashers. All together, the solar water heating system should help the Society save more than $11,000 over 10 years.

Lisa Fowler, Hawaiian Humane Society's director of development, said: "Bonterra Solar's donation of a hot water system helps to provide a warm bath for our animals, which mean more of the donations we receive can go to the direct care of the 300 animals we have in residence on any given day. Utility costs for our animal shelter, veterinary clinic, and adoptions center are always rising and we consume a lot of hot water through the various programs and services we provide."

Honolulu-based Bonterra Solar, a sponsor for the annual PetWalk, has been a long-time supporter of the Hawaiian Humane Society . Bonterra installs both residential and commercial solar systems.

Solar water heaters are a no-brainer for both residential homes and non-profit groups. A home's largest energy hog is the electric water heater, according to Hawaii Energy. A solar water heater for families of four or more could save up to $600 on the electric bill per year — enough to buy 200 pairs of slippers, 800 pounds of rice or 750 malasadas. Solar water heaters also qualify for an instant, $1,000 rebate, plus federal and state tax credits. Click here to learn more.

Solar water heater installed on the Hawaiian Humane Society's rooftop, donated by Bonterra Solar, should help save $11,000 over the next 10 years. Courtesy image.

Solar water heater installed on the Hawaiian Humane Society's rooftop at its King Street headquarters, donated by Bonterra Solar, should help save $11,000 over the next 10 years. Courtesy image.