Archive for the ‘solar’ Category

Put Solar On It

June 20th, 2014


RevoluSun recently installed the second phase of a 392.5 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on Kauai's Wilcox Memorial Hospital. Courtesy image.

RevoluSun recently installed the second phase of a 392.5 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on Kauai's Wilcox Memorial Hospital. Courtesy image.

Get ready, get sun — and put solar on it.

Celebrate solar power this weekend with the rest of the U.S. as part of the "Put Solar on It" campaign on Saturday, June 21, the summer solstice (longest day of the year). Cities across the U.S. are offering solar-related events.

The campaign is led by actor Mark Ruffalo, which asks the public to commit to putting solar on a building — whether it be your home, your school, place of worship or business. In return, Mosaic, the company known for crowdfunding solar panel projects across the country, will offer you the tools to make the project happen. Ruffalo has committed to putting solar on his children's elementary school this year.

Solar just makes so much sense in Hawaii, which has set a goal of achieving 70 percent clean energy by 2030 as part of our Clean Energy Initiative. Hawaii has made some recent headway towards making this goal a reality.

Renewable Funding, based in Oakland, Calif. was recently selected to develop and manage Hawaii's "Green Energy Market Securitization" (GEMS) program, with the goal of opening the door to underserved markets.

GEMS will use $150 million in low-cost bond market funds in combination with other sources of private capital to finance the upfront cost of solar PV systems for thousands of residents and businesses in Hawaii. Financing is expected to begin in late 2014.

"The GEMS approach is a game changer — it allows residents and businesses to install clean energy improvements using the same kind of financing that had previously only been available for utility-scale facilities," said Renewable Funding CEO Cisco DeVries (also the founder of PACE). "We applaud Gov. Abercrombie, the Public Utilities Commission and the State Legislature for taking this ambitious step to expand the availability of clean energy in Hawaii."

The Blue Planet Foundation also launched Wefficiency to help non-profits obtain funds needed to become more energy-efficient, through crowdfunding.

A list of Top Community Places in Hawaii listed in the Put Solar On It campaign at include St. Andrews Priory, Aiea Public Library, Waipahu Intermediate School, Soto Academy and ‘Iolani School. You can vote to support any of these places online.

Solar has so much more potential in Hawaii.

Wilcox Memorial Hospital on Kauai recently announced the installation of a new photovoltaic (PV) system that should save it about $217,000 a year in energy costs, and $7.6 million over the life of the system.

As for me, I'll be looking up at the sun on Saturday, smiling...

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Rally for clean energy

April 30th, 2014

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

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.

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.

Sacred Hearts goes solar

December 3rd, 2013

Sacred Hearts Academy now has a new solar array to help save electricity costs. Courtesy photo.

Sacred Hearts Academy now has a new solar array to help save electricity costs. Courtesy photo.

Congratulations go out to Sacred Hearts Academy, one  of Hawaii's oldest private schools, for going solar.

Hawaiian Energy Systems Inc. and Centrosolar America announced today the completion of a 243-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system at Sacred Hearts Academy, an all-girls Catholic College Preparatory School in Kaimuki. The rooftop installation is expected to reduce the school's energy costs by about 33 percent. The academy's energy costs in recent years added up to more than $350,000 annually.

Through a 10-year operational lease, there was no upfront cost to the academy for the installation, according to Hawaiian Energy Systems vice president of sales and marketing Christ Brashear.

The system, designed and installed by Hawaiian Energy Systems, includes 200 Centrosolar America 240 watt C-series modules and 823 of its 250 watt E-series modules, which both come with black frames.  Both of these module series have passed third-party salt spray testing, according to Hawaiian Energy Systems.

The project included multiple solar arrays with three different orientations. The panels are attached to Enphase M215 micro-inverters on the rooftop.

Teachers at Sacred Hearts are planning to integrate the new solar array and monitoring system into the campus curriculum to teach students about renewable energy.

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Solar PV firm steps in for family

November 14th, 2013

KCCN personality Jason "Pipi" Rezentes and wife, Kaui, needed the help of solar PV to car for their special needs daughter, Ava, 10, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy..

KCCN personality Jason "Pipi" Rezentes and wife, Kaui, needed the help of solar PV to care for their daughter, Ava, 10, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy. Courtesy photo.

During these challenging times for the solar industry, it's cool to see some companies are still willing to step in and donate a system to families in need.

Energy Pro Hawaii did just that.

Earlier this summer, the Rezentes family had submitted a video depicting their daily lives to Enphase's Mahalo Hawaii campaign. Every day, Ava is hooked up to various machines which drive the electricity bill sky-high. The Rezentes family was one of the top video contenders for Enphases' competition, offering a Hawaii-based non-profit a solar photovoltaic system worth $25,000. The solar PV system eventually went to the La‘a Kea Foundation of Maui.

Both videos received more than 14,000 votes.

Seeing that there was a need, Energy Pro Hawaii consulted with Enphase and decided to step in and provide the Rezentes family with a solar PV system.

Energy Pro Hawaii is also campaigning to help Hawaii's students get cooler classsrooms. For every PV installation from now until the end of 2013, the company is offering a percentage of its proceeds to help public schools get air-conditioning.

Though the Hawaiian Electric Co. is putting up some hurdles by requiring homeowners in solar-saturated areas to pay for new transformers and equipment upgrades (to mitigate safety and reliability risks) out-of-pocket, a solar investment still makes sense as we move towards our clean-energy goals of 2030.

Solar power should be accessible to all if we are sincere about reaching our clean-energy goals. Earthjustice, a nonprofit public interest law organization, is challenging HECO's decision to charge customers for these upgrades. If you don't live in a solar-saturated area (or even if you do), it's still worth considering going solar by the end of the year.

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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.

Congrats to Enphase winner

October 16th, 2013

Congratulations go out to the La‘a Kea Foundation, a Maui-based non-profit group that won a $25,000 solar photovoltaic system from Enphase's Mahalo Hawaii video contest.

La‘a Kea, a non-profit dedicated to providing meaningful work opportunities and residential options for adults with autism and intellectual disabilities,  won the most votes with its video submission contending for the solar energy system.

The Mahalo Hawaii contest celebrates Enphase's approach to its 25,000th system installation in Hawaii by awarding a $25,000 solar PV system to a non-profit. Enphase offers microinverter technology to the solar industry, which converts energy at the individual solar module level.

There were 16 contenders, and more than 38,000 votes cast, so competition was intense.

The solar PV system will help La‘a Kea reduce their energy costs while using a renewable energy system. La‘a Kea runs an organic farm on 12 acres in upper Paia. Maui's electricity rates are more than double the nation's average, so solar PV made sense.

"We want to thank Enphase for this generous donation and the thousands of friends and neighbors who voted for us," said Donna Ting, president of La‘a Kea's board of directors, in a news release. "It was an incredible community effort. Going solar is important. It helps us to be a more responsible steward of our resources and that is a good example for our residents and the community. The savings from the solar system will allow us to continue to focus on our mission of serving Maui residents with developmental disabilities and helping them thrive in our community."

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Solar voices

September 30th, 2013

Solar panels installed by Waterhouse Solar. Courtesy photo.

Solar panels installed by Waterhouse Solar. Courtesy photo.

In an effort to keep Hawaii's current "net metering" program in place, the Sierra Club, along with several partners, have launched

Solar power creates good jobs, says the Sierra Club, and gives Hawaii residents a chance to save money while protecting the aina. While distributing power over a stable grid is complex, solar is still the right direction for the state of Hawaii.

The website is meant to help the public understand the Hawaiian Electric Co.'s recent policy changes on solar interconnection as well as to gather voices from Hawaii residents who support solar energy. If you have a personal photo, story or video to share with others about how solar power has changed your life, you can submit it here. If you support Hawaii solar and want the Public Utilities Commission to stand strong for solar rights, click here.

A recent story in the Star-Advertiser touched on some of the changes. Solar PV installation has doubled nearly every year since 2005 in Hawaii. Solar provides energy for a total of 54 circuits out of 416 on Oahu.


Solar helps provide jobs. Solar worker with his son at solar rally at Hawaii State Capitol. Photo by Nina Wu.

The solar industry has created thousands of new jobs. It's not just for those who work directly as installers for solar companies.

There's also a trickle-down effect for others, including support staff, tax preparers (who have extra forms to process), electricians, tree trimmers, marketing and advertising. There's at least one company that offers to clean solar panels.

HECO says the saturation of solar power means upgrades are necessary to the Oahu grid.

Thus, HECO is no longer guaranteeing interconnection for residential systems with a capacity less than 10 kW. Now net energy metered (NEM) systems need to be reviewed by the utility prior to interconnection.

Before the new policy, if you had a solar PV system installed, you could have it connected to HECO's grid as long as you had a closed permit and the proper paperwork. Eventually, someone from HECO would come and swap out your old meter for a net meter. Now HECO is going to decide whether it can reserve a place on the grid for each PV system ahead of time. That means delays.

I remember when our solar PV system was installed, and when the meter was swapped out — an exciting and empowering feeling. It was neat to watch others in my neighborhood, one by one, install solar panels, too.

When we see the sun, we're all excited about producing power. It was a conscious investment (which we expect a return on) for the future and for our families.

And we should rightfully be credited by HECO when we produce more power than we consume. If HECO asks consumers to pay for the electricity that they use, then doesn't it make sense for us to get credit for power that we produce? We still pay a monthly fee just to be hooked up to the grid. HECO, being a utility provider, should ultimately be responsible for footing the cost of upgrades without passing that cost on to consumers. It's time to change the game.

Hawaii has gained great momentum in reaching its clean energy goals – 70 percent by the year 2030. Let's keep it going. Let your solar voice be heard.

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