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New Electric Vehicle Charging Station on Maui

EV station Haleakala Solar MauiA new electric vehicle (EV) charging station is available for public use in the Kahului Minit Stop parking lot off Dairy Road.

Maui is currently home to over 450 plug-in electric vehicles, which represents a tripling of growth from the 150 EVs in 2012. However, with 110,000 to 120,000 gasoline-powered cars on the road, there’s certainly much room for improvement.

Haleakala Solar is proud to support the growing need for charging stations around the island. 46.3 million barrels of petroleum were imported for Hawaii’s total energy use over the past year. The transportation sector consumes about 60% of that petroleum, so the adoption of EVs will greatly help reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels. Plus, as our energy grid gets powered by more renewable sources, the electric vehicle will become greener too!

Electric Vehicle Station From Haleakala Solar

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Freedom From Dirty Energy

Freedom from Dirty Energy

Free·dom [free-duhm]
noun
1. the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint.
2. exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.
3. the power to determine action without restraint.

Freedom is something we often take for granted. One of the greatest benefits of living in America is the amount of freedom we have, something people in a lot of other countries do not have. In Hawaii, though, there is one type of freedom that most people aren’t aware of. The freedom to choose the way they power their homes.

For decades, the only way we could affordably bring electricity into our homes was through the electric company. All other ways were not only more expensive but usually inconvenient as well. Well, finally there is a way to power our homes that is not only easy, but due to incredible tax breaks, even more affordable than purchasing through the utility companies. Solar energy.

Solar hot water can take care of all your hot water needs (one of the biggest energy hogs) and solar photovoltaic (pv) can fill your electrical needs. You can even purchase energy storage systems to supply you with electricity when your pv system isn’t producing enough.

Take control of your life and cut back your usage of dirty, fossil fuels. Solar is not only clean, but will actually save you money in the long run and put YOU in control of how your energy is generated. Which is another type of freedom. The freedom to determine how much you will be paying for your electricity every month.

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Ten Tips For Living Green

think green go green

TEN TIPS for Living Green

Here are some simple tips and ideas on how you can live more sustainably and save money at the same time.

  1. Use Energy Efficient Appliances

    The major appliances in your home- refrigerators, washer and dryers, dishwashers, etc. account for a large chunk of your monthly utility bill. We’re not saying to go out and get rid of all your appliances and buy new ones right now, but when the time comes they need replacing, it would be smart idea to consider purchasing energy efficient models. Some current energy-efficient refrigerators could actually use less than half the energy of a model that’s 12 years old or older.

  2. Unplug Your Charger

    It’s amazing the amount of devices, tools etc. we use today that need recharging. Smartphones, tablets, and portable tools are just a few. Once people are done charging their devices, often they will leave the charger plugged in the wall. Unfortunately, chargers keep pulling power whenever they’re plugged in and all that energy is wasted. Best thing to do? Unplug the charger from the socket when charging is done.

  3. Improve the Efficiency of Your Existing Water Heater

    Well, we debated putting this one on here, but in all honesty, it is one of the best ways to cut down your energy bill. Tankless and solar water heaters in of themselves are great, but simple changes to your existing setup can cut your energy bills by 25 percent or more. Reduce the temperature of your water heater to 120 degrees, wrap it in a water-heater insulating blanket and insulate the first 3 to 6 feet of hot and cold water pipes. These changes don’t take a lot of time or money, but could make a real difference in the energy you use.

  4. Compost

    Composting is a great way to turn food and lawn wastes into rich mulch. What’s great about this is the idea taking something that’s considered (literally) trash and turning it into something valuable. Here are a few tips on how to get started:

    • Find an area in your yard with bare earth to start your composting pile. Having your pile on open earth would allow worms and other beneficial organisms to aerate the compost.
    • Gather a pile of lawn and garden waste onto the bare area. Be sure to mix “brown” materials like leaves and shredded paper with “green materials such as grass clippings. Having both ensures better results.
    • Keep your compost pile damp but not wet. Moisten materials as you add them to your pile. This will help ensure your pile will not dry out which would slow down the process.
    • Do not compost meat, bones or fish scraps. Stick with food scraps and yard waste only.
    • Turning your pile as often as possbile helps to speed up the process. Aerating the pile in this way adds oxygen which helps the process to work better.
    • Cover the pile. You can use wood, plastic sheeting, old carpet for example. Covering helps retain moisture and heat, two elements essential for composting.
  5. Switch to CFL or LEDs

    CFL (compact flourescent lights) and LED (light-emitting diodes) use up to 80 percent less energy than incandescent light bulbs and can last up to 25 times longer. Out of the three LEDs are generally the most efficient and have the longest life span but also the most expensive.

  6. Get a High-Efficiency Showerhead

    You can lower your water heating cost by getting a high-efficiency showerhead. Doing this can save up to 3,000 gallons of water per year. This equates up $50 in energy costs and roughly 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. The showerheads are specially designed to conserve resources while still providing like a luxurious-feeling shower.

  7. Buy Local Produce

    Many communities have a local farmer’s market. They are usually fresher (fruits and vegetables shipped from outside the state and country can travel up to two weeks before it arrives in grocery stores. As a bonus they are often cheaper than produce found in stores and many are organically grown as well.

  8. Use Rechargeable Batteries

    It’s amazing how many AA batteries one might use in the home. From remote controls to flashlights to computer mice. I recently went around my home and found over 40 AA batteries being used. Rechargeable batteries are more expensive than their non-rechargeable counterparts, but last many, many times longer. Just remember to unplug the charger after the batteries are recharged.

  9. Install a Drip Irrigation System

    Like many of the other tips listed, this one requires an investment up front, but delivers savings over the long run. If you are out in your yard watering your plants on a regualar basis, not only will installing a drip system save on your water bill, but plants will do better with the consistent watering and you will save time as well.

  10. Develop Better Energy Saving Habits

    This is something that really doesn’t cost anything other than a little bit of effort. Turn off the lights when leaving a room. Turn off the computer when not in use. Take shorter hot showers. Turn off water when brushing or shaving. Developing good energy saving habits may not seem like a whole lot over the short run, but if enough people do it over the long haul, it could add up. More than anything, it’s about developing the right mindset in helping our environment.

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Go Solar – Conserve Water

stream of water

You already know that solar power reduces your energy bill and our dependence on fossil fuels, but did you know that going solar also saves water?

Water is used throughout traditional energy production: to pump crude oil out of the ground, remove pollutants from power plant exhaust, generate steam that turns turbines, flush residue after fossil fuels are burned, and cool power plants. In fact, fossil-fuel-fired thermoelectric power plants consume over 500 billion liters, or more than 132 billion gallons, of fresh water per day in the United States alone.

“The most important use of water for electricity production is for cooling,” says Adam Schlosser, an author of the study and the assistant director for science research at MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. “The benefit of renewables like wind or solar is that you don’t need to boil water for steam to spin the turbines, and then you don’t need water to cool the steam. That cooling process is removed, saving a lot of water.”

According to the EPA, each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of thermoelectric generation requires the withdrawal of about 25 gallons of water, however only an average of 2 gallons of water is actually lost to evaporation for each kWh consumed.

If the average residential meter in Hawaii uses 615 kWh per month, that’s 1,230 gallons of water used in addition to your normal water needs. That may not seem like a big deal since that water use doesn’t show up on your water bill, but water consumption is something we all need to be aware of now – before water scarcity becomes a problem here in Hawaii.

The Hawaii Water Conservation Plan written in February 2013 shows that “over 90 percent of the state’s drinking water comes from groundwater sources, while much of the water used for agricultural irrigation comes from surface water sources. It is estimated that public water systems supply approximately 205 million gallons per day (mgd) of potable water across the state. Water used for agricultural irrigation is estimated to be well over 350 million gallons per day. In some areas of the state, demand for water is approaching the sustainable limits of supply, and these demands are expected to increase in the future. In order to sustain and protect our water for future generations, we must strive to be as efficient as possible in all of our water uses.”

Normally, when folks think about going solar, they’re thinking about their wallets, not the environment. When they do think about saving the planet with their solar panels, they’re probably happy about the incredible amounts of carbon pollution they’ll be avoiding by switching to clean energy. But now, you can add conserving water as one more reason to go solar.

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The Advantage of Enphase Microinverters

Enphase Microinverter M190

Inverters convert direct current (DC) electricity generated by solar panels into alternating current (AC). The alternating current is then fed into the electrical grid. There are, in general, two types of inverters used in most solar systems, “central” and “micro” inverters.

Microinverters have several advantages over central inverters. Microinverters are connected to each individual solar panel in the system. Central inverters combine all of the power from multiple solar panels in one central location. With microinverters, if one panel is defective or has coverage issues, such as dirt, shading or even slight orientation mismatch, it will not affect the rest of the panels. With central systems, if one panel has issues, it could alter the energy output of other panels, greatly reducing the effectiveness of the entire system.

The development of microinverters has greatly increased the efficiency of solar systems and the company on the leading edge of microinverter technology is Enphase. One of the main reasons Haleakala Solar uses Enphase microinverters is because of it’s reliability, specifically its robustly-engineered hardware, integral for withstanding harsh climates of Hawaii.

Haleakala Solar was recently featured in an article on the Enphase website. Check it out here.

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The White House Goes Solar (Again)

Earlier this month, solar panels finally returned to the White House. The American-made photovoltaic system installed at the executive residence is able to generate 6.3 kilowatts of solar energy and is estimated to pay for itself in energy savings over the next eight years, as long as the next president doesn’t remove them.

This isn’t the first time solar energy has graced the White House. President Jimmy Carter installed 32 panels back in 1979, after an Arab oil embargo spiked fuel prices. In a time when being environmentally-friendly wasn’t popular, President Carter said the solar panels and hot water heater would “either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.” Unfortunately, President Ronald Reagan removed them in 1986 when the roof was resurfaced. It’s also worth mentioning that President George W. Bush had some PV installed on a maintenance building and the president’s cabana to heat water for the outdoor White House pool.

Along with the White House going solar, President Obama announced that over 300 organizations, both in the public and private sector, have made commitments to solar power and energy efficiency. These commitments will result in more than 850 megawatts of solar, enough to power nearly 130,000 homes, as well as reduced energy bills for more than 1 billion square feet of buildings.

Currently, a new American home or business goes solar every four minutes. If the American solar industry continues at its current pace, a PV system could be installed every minute and twenty seconds by 2016.

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Hawaii Tells HECO To Cut Electric Costs, Allow More Solar

Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL

On April 29, Governor Neil Abercrombie and the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issued four mandates ordering Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO) to “aggressively pursue” reduced electricity costs and allow more customers access to solar photovoltaic systems.

HECO has four months to file action plans with the PUC, showing their progress towards aligning their business model with customers’ interests and the state’s energy goals.

The PUC felt they had to step in after observing that “the HECO Companies appear to lack movement to a sustainable business model to address technological advancements and increasing customer expectations.”

“The traditional utility structures need to adapt to meet these challenges and to transform to become the utility business model of the future,” said PUC Commissioner Lorraine Akiba.

“The time for talk has ended. The time for action is upon us,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “I want to make it clear that where the utility and its regulations are concerned that this is not a series of recommendations, but rather an invitation and a guide path to action.”

Hawaiian Electric Statement

HECO President and CEO Dick Rosenblum issued a statement that says:

“The PUC issued a comprehensive set of energy policies and guidelines. In this challenging, fast-changing energy environment, we welcome the PUC’s clear direction and roadmap. We’ve been working on many of these initiatives, and these directives confirm the energy policy priorities that will guide our strategies and implementation.

We have many of the building blocks already in place, including our grid modernization work, the initial phase of our smart grid project, and our progress in renewable energy – now at more than 18 percent. We’ve begun deactivating older fossil fuel plants, such as Honolulu Power Plant and others on Maui and Hawai‘i Island. And we’re taking other steps to lower costs to customers, such as use of low-cost liquefied natural gas as a transition fuel.

We understand the importance of moving quickly and see this as an unprecedented opportunity to move aggressively on a shared vision for the utility of the future and on our role in meeting the needs of our customers.

We look forward to working with the PUC and the Hawai‘i State Energy Office as we move forward to develop and execute these comprehensive plans.”

PUC orders Hawaiian Electric Company

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Earth Day – Yesterday and Today

Senator Gaylord Nelson - Founder of Earth Day 1970

“Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures.”

-Senator Gaylord Nelson
founder of the first Earth Day in 1970.


Earth

Every year on April 22, the world comes together to honor our planet and shine a spotlight on environmental concerns. Earth Day is currently the largest civic event in the world, celebrated by over a billion people in 192 countries.

Earth Day History
Back in the 1960s, politicians’ focus was on development and economic progress. Laws to protect the environment were virtually nonexistent, so factories could pollute the air and dump toxic waste into lakes and rivers without punishment. Many residents drove big, gas-guzzling cars as a symbol of their status, and hardly anyone knew about, let alone practiced, recycling. As a result, this country’s beautiful natural areas were being destroyed, and pollution was viewed as a necessary consequence of prosperity.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson started Environmental MovementRachel Carson’s best-selling book ‘Silent Spring,’ published in 1962, is often credited with kick-starting the environmental movement. ‘Silent Spring’ caused a booming post-war America to stop and think about the dangers of applying DDT and other non-selective pesticides. “These sprays, dusts, and aerosols are now applied almost universally to farms, gardens, forests, and homes — nonselective chemicals that have the power to kill every insect, the ‘good’ and the ‘bad,’ to still the song of birds and the leaping of fish in the streams, to coat the leaves with a deadly film, and to linger on in the soil — all this though the intended target may be only a few weeds or insects. Can anyone believe it is possible to lay down such a barrage of poisons on the surface of the earth without making it unfit for all life?” asks Rachel Carson.

Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat from Wisconsin, was elected to the U.S. Senate the same year ‘Silent Spring’ was published, determined to convince the government that the planet was at risk. In 1963, Nelson introduced legislation to ban DDT and not one single member of Congress joined him. Nelson was able to convince President Kennedy to join him on a 5-day, 11-state “conservation tour” in hopes of making the environment a national political issue, however the press was uncooperative, preferring to cover foreign policy over environmental issues.

Even though Washington was slow to respond, citizens increasingly began to share Nelson’s concerns. In 1969, two major ecological nightmares grabbed headlines – the largest oil spill in United States waters at the time occurring in Santa Barbara and the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio becoming so contaminated that it actually caught on fire. Nelson was returning from the oil spill devastation when he read about anti-Vietnam War “teach-ins” that were taking place on college campuses around the United States. The idea inspired a new strategy: “If we could tap into the environmental concerns of the general public and infuse the student anti-war energy into the environmental cause, we could generate a demonstration that would force the issue onto the national political agenda.”

The First Earth Day
Earth Day 1970 Senator Nelson selected 25-year old student activist Denis Hayes as National Coordinator and California Republican Congressman Paul McCloskey to serve as co-chair. Together, with an army of student volunteers, Nelson’s Senate staff, and media support, rallies were organized in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and over 1,000 communities across the nation on April 22, 1970. A whopping 20 million people participated in the very first Earth Day, including 10,000 high schools, 2,500 colleges, and everyone from housewives and farmers to scientists and politicians.

The first Earth Day represented a turning point for many, as environmental issues became a community concern and residents grasped the effects of oblivious consumption and waste. When polled in May 1971, 25 percent of the U.S. public named protecting the environment to be an important goal, a 2,500 percent increase over 1969. In turn, Congress responded by making amendments to the Clean Air Act, creating the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and forming the EPA within three years of Earth Day 1970.

6th graders march at first Earth Day 1970.

6th graders march at first Earth Day 1970.

Balboa Park Earth Day 2011

Balboa Park Earth Day 2011

Earth Day Goes Global
Earth Day went global in 1990, with Earth Day Network, a nonprofit organization started by Denis Hayes, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and elevating environmental concerns onto the world stage.

The Importance of Earth Day Today
While the first Earth Day was focused on joining different groups of people together within the United States, today’s message is to think globally and act locally, meaning that no matter where you live, we are all environmental stewards of the planet. According to Hayes, “Important environmental issues that are facing us–climate change, everything from threats to the hydrological cycle and nitrate cycle, mining, devastation by over-fishing of the world’s oceans, acidification of the world’s oceans, the trade in endangered species, and on and on–are all things that no one country can control or cure by itself.”

Take Action
So, since the biggest problems are ones that can’t be solved by any one nation (let alone one person), what CAN you do?

Easy things to do today!
Help NASA raise awareness with a #GlobalSelfie – On April 22, 2014, Take a selfie out in nature, include the tag #GlobalSelfie, and upload on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram or Google+. NASA will then combine each of these individual photos and create the “blue marble”- a mosaic of the earth formed with all the collected images.

Plant a tree – Over a 50-year lifespan, one tree provides $31,250 worth of oxygen and $62,000 worth of air pollution control. Bonus if it’s a native Hawaiian tree.

Pump up your tires – Over 700 million gallons of gasoline are wasted in the U.S. annually because tires are not inflated properly.

Eat meatless – Reducing meat consumption conserves fresh water, saves topsoil, and even reduces air pollution.

Mother EarthPledge your commitment – Help Earth Day Network reach their goal of 2 billion acts of green. Even better, post your commitment on social media and encourage your friends to get involved.

Inspired to go green beyond Earth Day?
Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth – This can save up to 8 gallons of water.

Reduce your waste – The average American generates 4.38 pounds of trash per day. Start a compost, separate your recyclables, and remember to take your reusable bags to the store.

Buy local – 42% of carbon pollution emissions in the U.S. are associated with the energy used to produce, process, transport, and dispose of the food we eat and the goods we use.

Go solar! – Since electricity rates in our state are so high, solar power systems in Hawaii have a total payback of 3-4 years.

See even more tips on Going Green.

going green

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Recent Hires and Promotions

A big congratulations goes out to the following new hires and current employees who were awarded with a promotion in our company.

New hires in March and April:

Nathan Stillmaker – Designer, Maui
Andrew Templeman – Assistant Business Manager, Kauai
Greg LaManna – Journeyman Electrician, Kauai
Hugens Guillet – Apprentice Electrician, Kauai
Justin Silva – PV Installer, Kauai
Theron Westfall – PV Installer Lead, Kauai
Justin Kaai – Apprentice Electrician, Oahu
Mark Suh – PV Installer, Maui
Rob Silva – PV Installer, Maui

The following individuals who were recently promoted in April:

James Aruda – VP, Operations – Maui/Big Island
Moki Silva – VP, Operations – Oahu/Kauai
Matt Enos – Director, Operations – Maui/Big Island
James Rudolph – Director, Operations – Oahu/Kauai

Be sure to check our job board to view our latest job opportunities.

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Largest Solar System Installation on Kauai: Poipu Beach Villas

We’ve been busy working on an exciting project on Kauai and finally snagged a break to tell you all about it.

Haleakala Solar has always admired the commitment to green living demonstrated by Koloa Landing at Poipu Beach Wyndham Grand Resort. Poipu Beach Villas (PBV), the developer of Kokua Landing, thought about energy efficiency and the environment from the very beginning: using recycled and environmentally-friendly materials in construction, building dry wells to conserve storm-water runoff, installing LED lighting and central air conditioning to reduce owners’ electric bills, implementing a recycling program, and much more.

Poipu Beach Villas has decided to further pursue a green lifestyle by installing one of the largest solar systems on Kauai and choosing Haleakala Solar to help them. Along with Citigreen Solar, we are installing the 300 Kilowatt Solar PV system using nearly 1,200 Canadian Solar modules, which will be connected to the grid using Enphase micro-inverters. This solar system will produce about 20% of electrical power currently being used at the property and generate an estimated 456,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. To put this in perspective, producing 456,000 kWh is like offsetting 736,887 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions every year which is equivalent to the CO2 emissions from 777 barrels of oil. Even though PBV is funding this solar project, homeowners at Koloa Landing are projected to save approximately 10% on their monthly electric bill.

Largest Kauai Solar System Poipu Beach Villas

The consistently sunny weather on Kauai’s south side create ideal conditions for solar that have been vital in helping the state of Hawaii reach its aggressive long-term renewable energy goals. The 6-MW Port Allen Solar facility is currently Hawaii’s largest photovoltaic energy plant, while the 1.21-MW Kapa‘a Solar Farm and 300-kilowatt array in Omao also contribute energy to the grid.

This solar installation at Koloa Landing reiterates the Garden Isle’s passion for all things green. The Development Team, General Contractor and Resort Operator are all in agreement that “incorporating GREEN initiatives in all aspects of the property will help protect and sustain our islands natural resources for current and future generations.” Our team here at Haleakala Solar wholeheartedly agrees!

Kauai Solar Project - Rooftop

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