Archive for the ‘solar’ Category

Tell it to HECO

October 2nd, 2014
By



 solar-PV-1024x685

Absolutely p.o.'ed. Disappointed. Insulted.

These are the responses I've heard from people who either own or lease solar photovoltaic panels regarding the plan that the Hawaiian Electric Co. recently proposed which would raise basic connection fees for all customers to $55, while imposing an additional $71 for new solar PV customers.

HECO also proposes that the utility credit solar PV customers about half of what they get now — at just 17 cents per kilowatt-hour — for the clean energy that they produce. In other words, if they produce the energy, they charge a premium. If solar PV customers produce clean energy, it should be worth less. How is that fair? How is charging ALL customers MORE — a whopping $55 (which is unheard of in any other state) — fair to everyone? Is it fair to change the rules in the middle of the game? Not in my book.

Meanwhile, more than 4,400 solar PV customers are still waiting to be connected to the grid. HECO has not answered questions of when they will be connected, or how they will be compensated, as they very well deserve to be.

Solar is not a luxury. It's a technology that middle-class families from Waianae to Hawaii Kai, small businesses and non-profits invested in as part of a step towards a clean energy future and energy independence. It's a technology that makes sense for Hawaii.

Polls show that an overwhelming number of people want more rooftop solar in Hawaii, according to the Sierra Club, which adds that "customer choice is in the public interest."

So give HECO a piece of your mind. Or tell it to the Public Utilities Commission, which still has to approve HECO's Aug. 26 plan. Public comment is welcome at hawaii.puc@hawaii.gov by Oct. 6. Put the docket number in the subject line. (ex.Public Comment – Docket No. 2014-0192 – DGIP). Let your solar voice be heard.

Separately, you can also contact Hawaii's legislators (contact info is available at capitol.hawaii.gov).

Letters to the editor have been rolling in, with the vast majority expressing disappointment and disbelief with HECO's plan. For your convenience,  here are "Letters to the Editor" that ran in the Star-Advertiser in the past few weeks. Shows you how powerful the voices for solar can be together (scroll all the way down, the earliest one's my favorite). Keep them coming.

Oct. 18, 2014

Rosenblum gets a sweet deal

Did I read this correctly ("Ex-HECO chief to get $551K as consultant," Star-Advertiser, Oct. 15)?

Hawaiian Electric Co. is paying former president and CEO Dick Rosenblum $551,000 for six months of work to be an "adviser" to HECO chairwoman Connie Lau immediately after he retires on Jan. 5.

So you have a current chairwoman, Lau, who has seemingly thwarted our state in its move toward energy independence, hiring Rosenblum to advise her on things she already knows or could be advised of between now and Rosenblum's retirement.

I don't get it. Something smells. Hopefully the public and the state Public Utilities Commission smell something, too.

Orson Moon
Aiea

PV owners being mistreated?

It seems Hawaiian Electric Co. has managed to pit photovoltaic owners against non-photovoltaic owners.

The erroneous assumption is PV owners are not paying their fair share because they are not buying enough energy. What happened to decoupling?

Saying to get off the grid if you do not like it ignores the fact that if 11 percent of the grid's users got off and stopped paying the minimum, that cost would have to be absorbed by the remaining 89 percent. Seventeen dollars may be too little, but $71 is too much, and it is unfair to make people pay more for using less.

Michael B. Moore
Kapalama

Sept. 27, 2014

HECO failing at lowering bills

I'm a photovoltaic investor and it saddens me to have read negative responses to PV systems.

I shouldn't have to explain why we decided to invest our hard-earned money into a PV system, but I feel I must.

The reason my family did it was to get away from a huge monopoly like Hawaiian Electric Co. and start using the money saved from the outrageous electric bills to something more important -- our kids.

It seems to me HECO is trying to create an animosity between us and a distraction from the bigger picture.

There are fewer customers on the grid but HECO is still charging three times more for electricity. Why hasn't it figured out how to take the unused electricity my PV system produces and apply it to non-rooftop solar customers to lessen their electric bills?

Could it be HECO was unprepared?

Crystal Padron
Kapolei

Sept. 26, 2014

HECO delaying sustainability

Stop falling for Hawaiian Electric Co.'s misinformation campaign that pits customers against each other ("No special deals for PV owners," Star-Advertiser, Letters, Sept. 11).

Unfortunately, we're past the luxury of bickering. Climate change is real. Climate change is here. Any doubters should check out what's happening with rising sea levels on the islands of Kiribati, then go to watchdisruption.com.

HECO's plan slows Hawaii's move to clean energy and self-sustainability.

In addition to slowing photovoltaic installations, it swaps oil for liquefied natural gas, another fossil fuel, drilled via "fracking," which creates climate impacts just as bad as oil.

Fracking also ruins communities by exposing them to environmental and health hazards, including toxic leakage into their drinking water.

I don't think the people of Hawaii want to be party to this type of devastation.

We must all do everything we can to bring down carbon emissions, and that means cooperation and putting the planet before HECO profits.

Sherry Pollack
Ahuimanu

PV owners now being penalized

We installed thousands of dollars worth of photovoltaics two years ago.

It was our out-of-pocket gesture to benefit the community and help protect the environment.

It was also, incidentally, a very real subsidy to Hawaiian Electric Co., in the form of reduced fossil fuel costs, thereby freeing up funds which could be used to maintain and improve the electrical grid.

We generate all our own home power, plus some extra for the community to share. Based on our past electric bills, we won't recoup our investment for more than 10 years. Oahu's other 33,000 PV owners are doing essentially the same.

Let's not forget that PV owners paid their dues, up front, when purchasing their systems. We committed personal resources to move all of us toward our shared goal: clean air and energy independence.

Why, then, should we be financially penalized and seen as part of the problem, when we're proactively pursuing the solution?

Don Hallock
St. Louis Heights

Sept. 24, 2014

HECO driving customers away

Here is a glimpse of the future if Hawaiian Electric Co. raises the hook-up rate for solar customers:

Solar customers will look at the annual $850 or so that HECO is charging to be connected to the grid, do the math, and figure out that if they buy batteries and a generator, they will not need HECO. Battery technology is getting cheaper.

HECO is getting what amounts to free power from the excess from these customers. New HECO generators to replace this lost power will be very expensive.

HECO's CEO, Constance Lau, as reported in 2013, was earning $5.82 million per year. If you have a family of four, you are paying more than $20 a year just for Lau's salary. Double that for the next few key executives.

With solar customers opting out of the grid, that burden falls on fewer shoulders.

All rates will go up.

Tom Wallace
Hawaii Kai

Sept. 19, 2014

HECO conquers by dividing us

Hawaiian Electric Co. created a debate pitting ratepayer against rate-payer, deflecting attention from the real issues at hand.

Temperatures could increase by 2 degrees by the mid-2030s according to Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group vice president and special envoy for Climate Change. Kyte also said we could be staring at an ongoing food crisis within the next decade.

One person in five receives aid through the Hawaii Food Bank. Making matters worse, we can expect a sharp climate-induced rise in food prices due to the severe drought in California. Many will have to choose between feeding their families or paying their electric bill.

HECO and its shareholders should bear some of the burden. And HECO should be mobilizing its resources to expedite a grid with majority renewable energy to help reduce rates. We all need to make sacrifices in this era of climate change.

Dan Nakasone
Wahiawa

Sept. 18, 2014

It's not HECO's call about tax rebates

Something seems to have been lost in the debate over our rooftop solar panels.

The idea was to find a way to reduce the island's collective carbon dioxide footprint. In order to do that, homeowners needed an incentive. Tax rebates are that incentive.

This should not be Hawaiian Electric's call. HECO, as a corporation, has no interest in reducing CO2, if it costs the corpor- ation money.

That is why, I hope, we have government and regulations that lean toward the interests of the people, not the corporations.

Garry Francell
Waialae Nui Ridge

Solar production was boon for HECO

Hawaiian Electric Co. encouraged solar power production because it made economic sense for HECO and for all its customers.

This solar power production deferred rate increases for needed generating capacity that HECO otherwise would have been required to build itself. HECO also touts solar power as a non-fossil-fueled, sustainable resource.

Due to significant tax credits, customer-generated solar power was cheaper (and more timely) than power that HECO could have produced itself. HECO enjoyed the additional capacity, deferred ratemaking politics, and avoided the customer rate-shock that would have occurred if it had built this generating capacity itself.

Shame on HECO for creating a wedge between its solar and non-solar customers over transmission upgrade costs.

HECO dollars to be spent on transmission upgrades have been more than offset by the dollars that HECO saved by not building this generating capacity itself, dollars that ultimately all HECO customers would have paid.

Donald Armstrong
Kailua

Sept. 14, 2014

"PV system permits plummet on Oahu," Star-Advertiser, Sept. 10:

» Anybody who says Hawaiian Electric did not anticipate the demand is drinking the HECO Kool-Aid. I agree, they did not plan for it, but not because it wasn't evident in all the numbers.

» HECO did not anticipate, HECO did not anticipate, HECO did not anticipate. I am so sick and tired of hearing this because all it is saying is that they did not plan or do their job!

» Hawaiian Electric currently pays a 5 percent annual dividend. PV is not an option for me, so I bought shares of HE stock. For now, the 5 percent dividend covers my electricity bill.

» Lemons into lemonade. Good for you.

Sept. 7, 2014

HECO profiting well from PV customers

Hawaiian Electric Co. President Dick Rosenblum's latest quote, "We just want them to pay their fair share" regarding residential PV owners, really galled me.

HECO proposes to not only increase the base charge but also reduce by half the price of the credits it's giving solar owners, citing fairness and pandering for support from those without PV panels upset about paying full price.

If Rosenblum wants to talk fair share, how about HECO sending a check for that electricity they're taking from me and selling to non-solar owners?Even at the reduced rate, it would be a pretty penny every year.

HECO doesn't pay a dime for residential PV systems yet profits by re-selling any annual over-production from the panels at full price with absolutely no overhead to itself when the credits zero out.

I hope the state Public Utilities Commission sees through this charade to pad HECO's bottom line and that the Star-Advertiser does a little investigative reporting to bring the heat.

Mike Hanson
Mililani

Sept. 4, 2014

Maybe turn HECO into a nonprofit

The premise of Hawaiian Electric Co. President Dick Rosenblum's defense of proposed HECO rates seems to be that solar power adopters are getting a "good deal" from HECO ratepayers after paying off their solar systems.

Rosenblum seems to conflate taxpayers with ratepayers.My solar "deal" was a result of taxpayers deciding that the common good was served by decreasing the amount of electricity generated by HECO and increasing the amount of electricity generated by individual solar panels.The $55 charge advocated by HECO is really solar owners paying for 200 kWh of electricity they don't use.

Using Rosenblum's logic, shouldn't taxpayers own HECO so that the subsidies provided from non-solar to solar customers are equitably distributed?

HECO reported $161 million profit for 2013.If HECO was non-profit, the $38 million subsidy claimed by Rosenblum could be easily absorbed by the public corporation and rates could be lowered for all.

Mark Felman
Kapolei

Sept. 2, 2014

HEI salaries related to high energy cost?

Informative and interesting article on high-salaried occupations in Hawaii ("Medical field tops wage ranking in Hawaii," Star-Advertiser, Aug. 28).

Going a little further and calculating, it appears that the CEO of Hawaiian Electric Industries received in the neighborhood of $2,885 an hour. Once you calculate the salaries of all other Hawaiian Electric employees, the total annual salaries must be off the charts.

Could that be one of the reasons that Hwaii owners and businesses pay the highest price in the nation for electricity?

James l. Robinson
Aiea

What will new rate be called on bill?

HECO's new plan will raise more than solar rates; it will raise mine, too, and I'm not a solar customer because I live in a condo.

HECO says it now charges 34 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh).

When I do the math, my last bill came out to 37.7 cents per kWh, all charges inclusive. Even if HECO reduced the charge from 37.7 cents per kWh to 26 cents per kWh and then added the $55 charge, my bill would increase by 25 percent.

I say, OK, charge me the 34 cents per kWh (not the 37.7 cents per kWh), but forget the $55 charge.

What does it plan to call the new charge anyway?My bill already has the following ambiguous charges on it:Customer Charge; Base Fuel Energy; Non Fuel Energy; Energy Cost Adjustment; IRP Cost Recovery; PBF Surcharge; Purchased Power Adjustment; RBA Rate Adjustment; and Renewable Infrastructure Pgm.

HECO is the wolf in sheep's clothing. Baaaaaa to its plan.

Kathleen Adams
Mililani

Aug. 31, 2014

HECO energy plan will kill PV industry

Shibai! Hawaiian Electric Co.'s so-called energy plan is anti-green and anti-renewable energy.

First, it will penalize photovoltaic (PV) customers who invested tens of thousands of dollars to become energy efficient.That will also destroy the PV industry in Hawaii.

Second, while HECO claims it wants to reduce charges to non-PV customers, the plan actually provides their rates will increase, too -- all in the mere hope that after 2030 HECO "might" reduce energy costs for everyone.

If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

Michael A. Lilly
Pacific Heights

Changing rules now unfair to PV owners

My electric bill last month was $17.

We delivered to Hawaiian Electric Co. 280 kilowatt hours (kWh) and received 220 kWh for a credit of 60 kWh. But with the proposed rate increase we would have to pay $99.57 -- a dramatic increase.

Here's the calculation: To HECO, we would have to pay 220 kWh times 34.62 cents, totaling $76.17 for the electricity we received, and simultaneously, receive a credit of 280 kWh times 17 cents for $47.60 total for the power we feed into their system(instead of our present 280 kWh times 34.62 cents for $96.93 total).

So although this wasa good summer month and we made more electricity than we used, we still would have a negative balance of $28.57 ($76.17 - $47.60 = $28.57).

Add to that the proposed new fixed monthly charge of $71 and our bill would then be $28.57 + $7 = $99.57. This would make solar a poor investment for us and probably many other solar customers.

HECO should not be allowed to change the present rules for existing solar owners, because the present rules were the main reason people bought solar.

Volker Hildebrandt
Kaneohe

Aug. 30, 2014

HECO plan will ensure its profits

HECO has come up with a new plan that sounds more like a way to discourage private photovoltaic (PV) installations and effectively raise rates.

» Step 1: Promise (someday) a 20 percent reduction in electric rates.

For its mythical average customer using 600 kilowatt hours a month, that would be a savings of around $42 monthly.

» Step 2: More than quadruple the minimum monthly charge to people with PV from $17 a month to $71 a month, a $54 monthly hike.

» Step 3: Charge a one-time interconnection fee of an undisclosed amount for each PV installation.

» Step 4: Reduce the credit for electricity supplied by customers' PV installations in half (from the retail rate of about 35 cents per kWh to 17 cents per kWh).

Result: More profit for HECO.

Battery backed-up, off-grid installations will become more attractive, and HECO's customer base will decrease even further.

Result: Less reliable grid.

Bob Gould
Kaneohe

 

Solar vigil

August 22nd, 2014
By



Image courtesy Blue Planet Foundation.

Image courtesy Blue Planet Foundation.

The Sierra Club of Hawai‘i is inviting solar supporters to attend a candle lit vigil outside of HECO headquarters (across from 820 Ward Ave.) in Honolulu  from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 25.

Tuesday is the deadline for HECO to come up with a better plan to lower electricity rates and increase access to rooftop solar, as mandated by the Public Utilities Commission back in April.

"The message is simple: to reach energy independence, we need a plan for solar success. Without a plan to revive it, solar will remain on life support," said the club in an email calling for the vigil.

Click here if you want to join the vigil.

 

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Put Solar On It

June 20th, 2014
By



 

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 joinmosaic.com/solar/hawaii 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
By



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.

Clean energy jobs

March 12th, 2014
By



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 www.CleanEnergyWorksForUs.org.

Solar Love

February 14th, 2014
By



candyheart_interconnectme

"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

candyheart_solarbaby

Solar parking arrays

January 23rd, 2014
By



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
By



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
By



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
By



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.