Hawaii Solar Blog

Clinton Vs. Trump on Climate Change and the Environment

Election 2016 Candidates on Environment

325 seconds – that’s the amount of time spent talking about climate change and energy policy in the first two presidential debates. Although the environment hasn’t received much attention on the campaign trail, it’s an important issue that isn’t going away anytime soon. Environmental initiatives (or lack thereof) backed by the next President still have a chance to make a huge impact on the future of our planet.

For the most part, the 2016 presidential candidates’ positions align with the political platform of their party, which couldn’t be more different. Below we go over where Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton stand on climate change, water, conservation, and energy.

Climate Change

Hillary Clinton believes climate change is happening, saying “the science is crystal clear” on ScienceDebate. She vows to carry out the Paris global climate agreement President Obama joined and wants to steer our country to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over 80 percent by 2050. Her goals include cutting oil consumption by one-third through cleaner fuels and more efficient vehicles, reducing energy waste in homes, schools, hospitals, and businesses by one-third, and generating enough renewable energy to power every home in the country within ten years of taking office.

two sides to environmental issues“Climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time and its impacts are already being felt at home and around the world,” says Clinton. “That’s why as President, I will work both domestically and internationally to ensure that we build on recent progress and continue to slash greenhouse gas pollution over the coming years as the science clearly tells us we must.”

In 2009, business leaders took out a full-page ad in the New York Times to urge the government to take action against climate change. Donald Trump and three of his children were among the signatories of the open letter, which read, in part, “Please don’t postpone the earth. If we fail to act now, it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet.”

Today, Trump has changed his tune. In an interview with The Washington Post, Trump says he doesn’t believe in man-made climate change despite changing weather. A look through his Twitter feed shows Trump using individual examples of cold weather to dispel global warming and claims that climate change is a hoax. A now-deleted tweet from 2012 says that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

If elected, Trump has promised to cancel the Paris climate agreement and stop all payments of US tax money to a United Nations fund to combat effects of climate change worldwide. He also vowed to dismantle the “Department of Environmental” because it is killing businesses. Although no “Department of Environmental” exists in our government, Trump was likely referring to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is responsible for implementing the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

“I think our biggest form of climate change we should worry about is nuclear weapons. The biggest risk to the world, to me – I know President Obama thought it was climate change – to me the biggest risk is nuclear weapons. That’s – that is climate change. That is a disaster, and we don’t even know where the nuclear weapons are right now. We don’t know who has them. We don’t know who’s trying to get them. The biggest risk for this world and this country is nuclear weapons, the power of nuclear weapons,” says Trump.


A 2015 Gallup poll showed that the contamination of drinking water was the environmental issue that most worries people, and the water crisis in Flint, Michigan only exacerbates those fears.

When asked about Flint earlier this year during a campaign event in Iowa, Trump said, “Well it’s a shame what’s happening in Flint, Michigan. A thing like that shouldn’t happen but, again, I don’t want to comment on that. They’ve got a very difficult problem and I know the governor’s got a very difficult time going. But, you know, I shouldn’t be commenting on Flint.”

Clinton told Rachel Maddow that she was outraged by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder not asking for federal assistance and said she would look for a way to override him to get his constituents safe drinking water. She has pledged to form an Environmental and Climate Justice Task Force to locate and fix “the next 50 Flints” – impoverished communities most likely to face environmental risks.

In addition to polluted water sources, severe drought also plagues several areas of our nation, especially on the west coast. To improve water security and efficiency, Clinton proposes a Western Water Partnership which would help coordinate water use and invest in existing infrastructure, and a Water Innovation Lab to help utilities as well as agricultural and industrial water users discover more efficient strategies to use and reuse water.

Trump calls water “a top priority” and says “we must explore all options to include making desalinization more affordable and working to build the distribution infrastructure to bring this scarce resource to where it is needed for our citizens and those who produce the food of the world.”


Trump calls for a “shared governance of our public lands” where state and local governments will be empowered to protect wildlife and fisheries. “Laws that tilt the scales toward special interests must be modified to balance the needs of society with the preservation of our valuable living resources,” Trump said on ScienceDebate.

Clinton aims to keep public lands public to prevent them from being sold to the highest bidder, fight animal trafficking and illegal fishing, conserve wildlife by doubling the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program, and create “an American Parks Trust Fund to scale up and modernize how we protect and enhance” our national park system.


Clinton supports moving away from coal to renewable energy, using natural gas to transition and proposing a $30 billion plan to ensure that coal mining communities have secure healthcare, schools, and retirement plans and the land can be transformed into renewed places of economic and employment opportunity.

Continuing in Obama’s footsteps, Clinton aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 percent by 2025 relative to 2005 levels. Main objectives include installing over half a billion solar panels across the U.S. by the end of her first term and generating enough clean renewable energy to power every home in America within ten years of taking office.

These goals would mean installed solar capacity would increase to 140 gigawatts by the end of 2020, the equivalent of having rooftop solar systems on over 25 million homes, representing a 700% increase from current levels. In addition, more power from solar, wind, geothermal, and other renewable sources would be added to the grid than any other decade in history.

Clinton plans to accomplish these achievements by defending and expanding on the Clean Power Plan and implementing a Clean Energy Challenge that would offer grants and other incentives to encourage states to utilize clean energy, awards for areas that allow easier access to rooftop solar, work with local communities to improve the grid, and employ programs to provide clean and affordable energy to low-income communities.

This all sounds very supportive of renewable energy, but Clinton does have a questionable history. As a junior senator, she voted to expand offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. She has also flip-flopped on fracking and accepted donations and private fundraising events from the fossil fuel industry. But perhaps, the biggest concern was her inclination to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have increased drilling in the Canadian tar sands and released an enormous amount of greenhouse gases. (Clinton left office before a decision was made but formally came out against it only after environmentalists made a stink. Obama rejected the proposal.)

Trump has no voting record to analyze, but has never been shy about his support for fossil fuels. Trump favors an all-of-the-above energy strategy in order to make the U.S. energy independent of other nations.

“It should be the goal of the American people and their government to achieve energy independence as soon as possible,” Trump told ScienceDebate. “Energy independence means exploring and developing every possible energy source including wind, solar, nuclear and bio-fuels. A thriving market system will allow consumers to determine the best sources of energy for future consumption.”

He plans to produce “at least a half million jobs a year, $30 billion in higher wages, and cheaper energy” by opening up $50 trillion in untapped resources including shale, oil, coal, and natural gas reserves. This will be accomplished by rolling back most of the Obama administration’s “job-destroying” environmental policies, getting rid of a moratorium on coal leasing, and drilling on public lands, off American coasts, and in the Arctic.

There are no specific plans for renewable energy detailed, but Trump does hold an investment in NextEra Energy, one of the world’s largest producers of renewable power. He told a voter in Iowa, whose husband works for a wind turbine manufacturer, that he would support subsidies for the wind industry. Trump has called solar panels “very expensive” and “a disaster,” referring to the failed solar company Solyndra that received over $500 million in government aid before filing for bankruptcy.

The presidential race is gearing up to be a close one, and it’s important to know how each candidate will address crucial environmental issues facing not only our country but our planet. Please vote on November 8th.

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Smart Grid – What Makes It So Smart For Hawaii?

Smart Grid

Hawaii has an aggressive clean energy goal that all of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources no later than 2045, but in order to get to that goal our electrical grid needs to be able to support all this renewable energy. One of the ways is by upgrading our existing electrical grid to a Smart grid.

Difference Between a Traditional Power Grid and a Smart Grid

Traditional Power Grid

The electrical grid is a network that delivers electricity from the power plant to consumers. In the simplest form, a power plant generates electricity. The energy is then is delivered to customers through local power lines.

Even using traditional fuel sources like oil and coal, the grid is sensitive and depends upon a steady balance of power generation and load. The reason for this is because even a two percent drop in frequency can result in blackouts and fry customers’ electronics. The system is able to keep the frequency steady when it is dealing with consistent power, like diesel generators or hydroelectric.

But when energy sources, such as wind and solar, which are affected by weather conditions, are thrown in the mix, this causes fluctuations in the energy output, which can cause problems. Thus, HECO often has to limit renewable energy use because the current “traditional” grid is not responsive enough for the fluctuations. Solar installations are restricted to less than three percent of the system’s peak load or lower than ten percent of the load on any one circuit. At the wind farms, HECO has to employ a process known as curtailment and decrease power generated by the windmills, sometimes up to 100 percent of the available wind energy.

Smart Grid

The Smart Grid uses sensors along the transmission lines and smart meters that allow two-way communication between the utility and its customers, providing greater insight and unprecedented consumer participation that will allow users to better manage their power consumption.

Some of the benefits of a Smart Grid include:

  • More efficient transmission of electricity
  • Quicker restoration of electricity after power disturbances
  • Reduced operations and management costs for utilities
  • Reduced peak demand, which could help lower electricity rates
  • Increased integration of large-scale renewable energy systems
  • Better integration of customer-owner power generation systems, such as rooftop solar

Integrating a smart grid could become a major factor in helping Hawaii reach its clean energy goals. But there are many challenges to installing a smart grid. In the next article, we will investigate the challenges of integrating a smart grid in Hawaii.

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Solar Trends For the Solar Industry In 2016 And Beyond

solar trends for the solar industry

Back when Haleakala Solar first got started in 1977, solar power had the reputation of being an alternative energy source for hippies. Today, solar is a booming industry throughout many parts of the state, nation, and the world. Here are some predictions from the experts for the solar industry in 2016 and beyond.

Global solar installations will continue to experience exponential growth

2015 was a banner year with 59 gigawatts of solar installed worldwide, representing a 34 percent increase over 2014. This demand is expected to continue, with GTM Research estimating 64 gigawatts of solar PV to be installed globally in 2016, bringing the cumulative international solar energy total to 321 gigawatts by the end of the year.

Solar will dominate the energy market within 12 years

Ray Kurzweil, an American inventor, computer scientist, author, and futurist, is known for his 86% accurate track record concerning the future of technology. Since the ‘90s, Kurzweil has made 147 predictions and 115 of them have been completely correct with an additional 12 predictions being correct, just with the timing being off by a year or two.

Now Kurzweil is forecasting that solar will become a major force in the energy sector, growing from its current 2% market share to 100% of the market in 12 years. While others anticipate 12% market share in 20 years using linear analysis, Kurzweil attributes this increase to what he calls the Law of Accelerating Returns, which means that new technologies experience exponential growth as they become smaller and cheaper. He points to solar’s high rate of growth and the fact that PV has been able to double its market share every two years – what is now 2% was only 0.5% in 2012. While this prediction sounds a little outlandish, keep in mind that Kurzweil used the same accelerating returns reasoning to predict the mobile Internet, cloud computing, and wearable tech nearly 20 years ago.

China is expected to remain world market leader for Photovoltaic

Solar power installations in China, already the world’s largest market, is expected to equal at least 19.5 GW in 2016, an increase of 14.7 percent over 2015. The government aims to raise their PV capacity by 20 GW annually until 2020 as part of their strategy to decrease air pollution.

In addition to being market leader for cumulative PV installations, China will continue to be the leading producer of photovoltaic solar cells due to incentives, political stability, and dedication from its entrepreneurs to stay in the top spot.

The U.S. will have a milestone year and take the number 2 position

With the extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), PV installations in the U.S. is expected to hit over 10 GW for the first time ever and continue to grow, reaching 20 gigawatts per year by 2020.

In addition, Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) set by each state will bolster PV installations at the state level. Hawaii made headlines as the first state to enact a 100 percent renewable energy goal last year, while California and New York both increased their renewable goals to 50 percent by 2030.

Emerging markets will play a prominent role

The COP21 climate meetings outside Paris were attended and adopted by 196 nations who all agreed on a goal of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (°C) compared to pre-industrial levels. For many of the smaller nations, installing solar power is an attainable, cost-effective way to meet their promise to implement renewable energy in an effort to reduce climate change.

With the national solar installation target raised from 22 GW to 100 GW by 2022, we will see increased installations in India in 2016. Up to 3.6 GW of new solar capacity has been estimated, which represents a 70 percent boost over 2015.

Latin American countries, such as Brazil and Mexico, will be tested for their capability to meet their ambitions and actually execute projects. Other countries, including the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uruguay, Guatemala, and Panama will attempt to reach the 100 megawatt mark.

The off-grid solar sector will hugely impact people in Africa and Asia who don’t have access to the power grid

For the 1.2 billion people living without access to the electric grid, affordable off-grid solar solutions such as sun-powered portable lights and pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar kits offer a more reliable service than kerosene, candles, battery torches, or other fossil-fuel powered bandaid technologies. With rising consumer awareness and lower prices, the market is projected to grow from 25 million households today to 99 million households in 2020. Consumer demand and sales-driven push for higher-margin products are expected to encourage more sales of solar home systems capable of powering appliances such as TVs and fans, with around 15 million households possessing a solar-powered TV and 7 million off-grid households using solar-powered fans by 2020, according to a report produced by Lighting Global and Bloomberg New Energy Finance in partnership with the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association.

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Hawaii Ends Net Metering And Opens Door for Solar Energy Storage

Solar Energy Battery Storage

When one door closes, another opens. This saying holds true when it comes to Hawaii’s solar industry.

The Bad News

Citing unsafe circuits and grid disruptions as a couple of the technical and operational challenges the utility faces having the highest amount of solar per capita in the nation, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission ended net metering to new participants in October 2015. In its place, new customers choose from either grid-supply or self-supply options.

The grid-supply option is similar to NEM, allowing PV customers to export electricity to the grid for credits to their electric bill. However, instead of the full retail rate received from net metering, customers will be credited the cost of wholesale power, which is about half the average retail electricity rate. Wholesale prices range from roughly 15 cents per kilowatt-hour to 28 cents per kilowatt-hour depending on the island.

Under the self-supply option, PV customers with energy storage are eligible for an expedited review and approval of their systems in areas of high PV penetration. These customers can only export very limited amounts of electricity for a short duration and do not receive any compensation from HECO, but have the advantage of having backup solar power that can be used at night and in case of blackouts.

The Good News

While these new tariffs are much less favorable than net energy metering, here’s the good news: they open the door for technology and solutions that leverage battery storage and demand flexibility, ultimately reducing costs and increasing reliability for both the customer and the utility company.

Germany as a Renewable Energy Example

With the state’s mandate of reaching 100 percent renewables by 2045, Hawaii is certainly at the forefront of the clean energy movement, at least in the U.S., but there are other examples Hawaii can learn from.

One of these examples is Germany, which sees about as much sunshine as Alaska, but ranks second in cumulative installed photovoltaic solar capacity with 39.7 GW (previously ranked number one but was recently surpassed by China). Over the last two years, the country has added roughly 11 and 4 GW of wind and solar capacity respectively. In 2015, almost 33 percent of Germany’s electricity demand was met by renewable sources, and renewable energy penetration in the power supply is already greater than 100 percent in two German states.

Germany’s energy revolution, known as Energiewende or “energy transition,” is being largely driven by individuals rather that utilities. As of 2012, 35 percent of German renewable capacity was owned by private individuals.

“The Germans are ahead not because they have better sun, but because they set up a policy framework in which everybody can invest in renewables and come out ahead,” said Institute for Local Self-Reliance State and Communities Energy Program Director John Farrell, one of the principal architects of the groundbreaking, just-passed Minnesota solar standard. “It was not tilted toward people who have tax liability or upfront capital. It made it easy to become a renewable energy investor, democratized ownership, and created strong and resilient political support for renewables.”

Solar Energy Storage Solution for Hawaii

A key to the renewable energy industry in Germany is not just utilizing solar power but combining solar with battery storage. This allows customers to store excess energy and enjoy the benefits of solar power 24-hours a day, regardless of the weather. In addition, you no longer have to worry about power outages or rising electric rates.

A major provider of energy storage, accounting for about half of the residential market in Germany, is a company called Sonnen. In January 2016, Sonnen expanded to the U.S. with a new headquarters unveiled in Los Angeles and a rapidly growing distribution network.

HECO’s self-supply tariff provides an excellent opportunity for Sonnen’s battery system. After meeting HECO’s energy storage requirements in February, Sonnen smart energy storage systems are available through certified installer Haleakala Solar.

“Adding energy storage to solar PV installations in Hawaii is now financially beneficial for residential customers with a payback of as little as 6.5 years. Our smart energy management software allows homeowners to maximize their solar production during the day, storing excess solar for use at night or when utility rates increase,” according to Boris von Bormann, CEO of sonnen U.S. “The sonnenBatterie is a key to energy autonomy enabling customers to produce and store 100% of the energy they need for daily life or for backup power in the event of a grid outage.”

Sonnen vs. Tesla

Sonnen is not the only company seeking to empower customers through energy storage. Tesla is a sexy, household name that gained a lot of attention when it entered the energy storage market. Here are the main advantages of Sonnen:

Since its founding in 2008, Sonnen has built eight generations of its all-in-one residential storage product, shipping its 10,000th system earlier this year. This knowledge is priceless and has resulted in a superior battery system.

“No one has ever installed as many batteries as we have on the energy storage side and we have historical data on them,” von Bormann said. “So all of the systems online — we monitor them, we data-mine, we understand what the customer needs, we understand how they drive them.”

This understanding allows Sonnen to promise a 10-year guarantee and a 10,000 cycle guarantee that enables the all-in-one battery to offer the lowest cost per stored kWh on the market.

“You basically look at the fully installed cost, and you divide that by the number of cycles you can use it, times the capacity. And there we have an easy 10 cent [per kWh] advantage over everyone else in the market because of what our total system installed cost is and our cycle warranty.”

Along with Sonnen’s experience and reliability, Haleakala Solar was also attracted to Sonnen because its battery is customizable. Where Tesla’s home battery Powerwall is has a standard 6.4 kWh energy storage capacity with the ability to add on multiple batteries, the sonnenBatterie eco has a usable capacity of 4 kWh to 16 kWh, which can be upgraded in 2 kWh steps to easily fit each customer’s individual needs.

Solar Is Here to Stay

Since its start in 1977, Haleakala Solar has been around for many changes in the solar industry. While the end of net metering represents a speed bump, it just might end up backfiring on the utilities, encouraging customers to gain energy independence with solar energy storage… and possibly disconnect from the utility company altogether.

Contact us today to find out more about all of Haleakala Solar’s energy storage solutions.

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Maui Sugarcane Land to Become Renewable Energy Crops

Maui Sugar Cane Lands

With the January announcement that Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (HC&S) will cease sugar operations at the end of 2016 and transition to a new diversified agricultural model, many have been wondering exactly what will happen to the 36,000 acres used for growing sugar cane on Maui. There has been talk of creating smaller farms and implementing varied agricultural uses, potentially including food and energy crops, cattle, and the development of an agriculture park where residents would be able to grow crops.

Alan Oshima, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric, recently confirmed to Pacific Business News that he met with Chris Benjamin, president and CEO of Alexander & Baldwin, the parent company of HC&S, where the two CEOs discussed the possibility of using some of the Maui plantation land for renewable energy crops or projects.

“There are different kinds of crops we have looked at in the past and there might be some new technologies available we could look at. We promised to continue discussions,” said Oshima.

Another organization, Hawaii Renewable Resources LLC, is also interested in Maui’s potential to produce renewable energy. State lawmakers are considering bills that would allow the state to issue special purpose revenue bonds to assist Hawaii Renewable Resources with renewable natural gas and electricity production.

The mission of Hawaii Renewable Resources is to offer sustainable food production and renewable energy solutions. If SB2369 passes, Hawaii Renewable Resources would use the funds to grow energy crops that would produce renewable natural gas, carbon dioxide, recovered organic composts, and recovered irrigation water on former sugar plantation land as well as build and operate a natural gas production facility on Maui. The compost and water leftover from making the renewable natural gas would be given to farmers to help increase local food production. Since the public will benefit from this alternative energy option, without investment or operational risk to the State or counties, reaction so far has been favorable.

Tran Chinery, a spokesperson for HC&S, would not comment on the plans proposed in the bill.

In a separate bill, HB2593, Hawaii Renewable Resources is asking for $30 million in bonds to develop a facility for food crop, animal feed, and renewable non-fossil fuel production on Oahu.

With over 80 percent of Hawaii’s energy coming from petroleum, electricity rates remain among the highest in the nation, so Hawaii has set a goal to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2045. Supporters applaud efforts to help Hawaii become self-sufficient, increase local food production, and help the islands reach its renewable energy goals.

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Earth Day Events In Hawaii

Earth Day 2016

This year will mark 46 years since the very first Earth Day celebration which mobilized the public to unite in support of our planet and ignited the environmental movement. The theme for Earth Day 2016 is “Trees for the Earth” (#Trees4earth). The goal is to plant 7.8 billion trees, one for every person, by the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, 2020.

Why Trees?

Over 15 billion trees are lost every year because of land development, deforestation, and bad forest management. To put it into perspective, 15 billion trees is equivalent to around 48 football fields every minute.

Trees combat climate change by absorbing the carbon dioxide (CO2) building up in our atmosphere and releasing oxygen back into the air. In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the amount of CO2 produced from driving the average car 26,000 miles and provides enough oxygen for 18 people.

Trees make our air cleaner by filtering out pollutant gases and particulates, trapping them with their leaves and bark. The dust level in the air can be as much as 75 percent lower on the sheltered side of the tree compared to the windward side.

Trees reduce air temperature. Three trees placed strategically around a single-family home can cut summer air conditioning needs by up to 50 percent. Along with providing shade, further cooling occurs when water evaporates from the leaf surface. It has been found that areas with heavy tree cover are often 9 degrees cooler than urban areas.

Trees save water and help prevent water pollution. Shade from trees slows water evaporation, allowing lawns to absorb more moisture. Trees also reduce surface water runoff from storms, thus decreasing soil erosion and the accumulation of sediment and pollutants in our streams and oceans.

Trees create an ecosystem to provide habitat and food for birds and other animals.

Trees have also been known to boost property value, increase business traffic, reduce violence as well as heal and reenergize.

Other Ways to Help the Planet

Sign the #ParisAgreement Climate Petition. At the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, over 190 countries agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This Earth Day, world leaders have been invited to the United Nations to sign the agreement, and the petition will urge them to keep their word.

Go Meatless on Mondays. The meat industry accounts for 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, emitting over 36 billion tons of greenhouse gases annually. In fact, the amount of energy used to create one calorie of meat is almost twenty times the amount of energy as one plant calorie.

Reduce your food waste and start a compost. Over one third of all food produced around the world for human consumption is wasted every year. Only buy what you need and freeze or give away any excess. Recycle your produce scraps by composting and returning nutrients back to the soil.

End junk mail. The average adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail every year and 44% of that mail goes straight to the landfill unopened. Millions of trees are chopped down to create this junk mail, 28 billion gallons of water are wasted to produce and recycle junk mail, and the creation and shipping of junk mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 9 million cars each year. What if you could prevent this completely and declutter your mailbox by removing your name from mailing lists? Find out more here.

Go solar. According to the EPA, the average household emits approximately 20 metric tons of carbon pollution annually. A typical residential solar system will eliminate 3-4 tons of carbon emissions every year, roughly the equivalent of planting over 100 trees.

Earth Day 2016 Events in Hawaii

Enjoy these Earth Day festivities near you.


UH Mānoa Earth Day
Promotes existing sustainability efforts on-campus and seeks to inspire students, faculty, staff, and administration to become more involved in environmental work out in the community.
When: Friday, April 22 from 10:00am to 4:00pm
Where: UH Mānoa’s Campus Center

Mauna to Makai (Earth Day)
The Waikiki Aquarium’s 9th annual Earth Day celebration provides educational activities for both children and adults and focuses on the impact we make on water sources.
When: Saturday, April 23
Where: The Waikiki Aquarium
Cost: Free admission

Earth Day Cleanup and Ultimate Sand Sifter Competition
Volunteers check in at Waimanalo Beach Park at 9:00am and, from there, head to nearby locations to remove debris. After the clean up, the Ultimate Sand Sifter Competition invites participants to come up with a solution to remove microplastic marine debris. Winners receive a $1,000 prize and all entrants get a goodie bag.
When: Saturday, April 30
9:00am – Check in
9:30am to 12:00pm – Clean up
12:00pm to 2:00pm – Live music, games, and more
Where: Waimanalo Beach Park


2016 Maui Earth Day Festival
Celebrate the land and come together as a community to enjoy live music, information booths, a silent auction, healthy food booths, eco-friendly products, and a healing zone of massage therapists, intuitive healers and body workers. A keiki zone of music and games as well as a petting zoo and horse back riding will be available for children.
When: Sunday, April 17 from 10:00am to 6:00pm
2:00 to 3:00pm – Inspirational educational hour on “How to co-create a healthy future for Maui? Challenges and Solutions”
2:00pm – Keiki parade
Where: Ke‘opuolani Park Amphitheater, behind the Maui Nui Botanical Garden, across from the War Memorial Stadium
Cost: $7 entrance fee, kids free


Earth Day Rising VI
Celebrate the earth featuring workshops and panels on sustainable living, agriculture, and conservation, keiki on the farm activities, seed and plant giveaway, clothing swap tent, free county compost bin distribution, vendor and info booths, music, and food.
When: Sunday, April 24
Where: Malama Kauai Community Farm in Kalihiwai Ridge
Cost: $15 advanced donation online, $25 donation at door, keiki 16 and under free

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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.


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.

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Will Hawaii Reach Its 100% Renewable Energy Goal?

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The third annual Maui Energy Conference was held on March 16-18 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. Hosted by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB), the 2016 conference was attended by more than 300 of the brightest minds in the energy sector. Much of the discussions focused on Hawaii’s renewable energy goal of 100 percent by 2045 and how, or whether, the state will reach this goal.

So far, Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) has reported record-high renewable energy use in 2015 of a combined 23.2 percent for Big Island, Maui County, and Oahu. This represents an increase from 21.3 percent in 2014 and exceeds Hawaii’s 2015 renewable portfolio standard (RPS) goal of 15 percent.

The 2015 RPS was achieved with several renewable energy sources, including waste-to-energy, biomass, geothermal, hydro, wind, biofuels and solar, both utility-scale and customer-sited rooftop systems. Hawaii Island blazed the way with 48.7 percent of customer electricity use coming from renewable resources in 2015. Maui County, including Molokai and Lanai, reported 35.4 percent and Oahu produced 17.2 percent of its electricity from renewables.

Future RPS goals are 30 percent by 2020, 40 percent by 2030, 70 percent by 2040 and 100 percent by 2045. Although Hawaii achieved its 2015 RPS goal with flying colors, the end target of 100 percent by 2045 has some concerned.

Kauai Island Utility Cooperative CEO David Bissell estimates that in order for Kauai to be 100 percent renewable with today’s technologies, it would take three times as many rooftop solar systems, battery storage infrastructure and agricultural land for utility-scale photovoltaics and biomass crops. This equates to 5,000 acres and a $1 billion investment, with debt-service payments of up to $70 million.

Kauai is the only island not served by HECO. KIUC has around 35,000 member customers and is already supplying 40 percent of its demand using renewable energy. In January 2016, KIUC hit a milestone when renewables met an average 77 percent of the island’s energy demand and, during peak solar hours, briefly spiked to 90 percent renewable on four separate days. These achievements are credited to the liberal use of solar power and battery storage. On a normal day, the renewable energy profile on Kauai is 62 percent solar power, 8 percent biomass, and 7 percent hydroelectric.

Bissell pointed out that although Kauai, a rural island of 65,000 residents, could reach the state’s goal within the next 30 years, it’s a different story on the island of Oahu, which is home to nearly one million and the bustling capital city of Honolulu.

“The sheer infrastructure and scope that would be required to go to 100 percent on Oahu is really impossible under today’s technology,” Bissell revealed at the Maui Energy Conference. “There’s just not enough land there. It’s got to come from biofuel or other technology or from other islands.”

“No one is going to get to 100 percent without upending the utility model,” encouraged Bill Ritter Jr., former governor of Colorado and founder and current director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University. “It’s absolutely doable. It’s part of what the future of the world needs to look like.”

Boris von Bormann, CEO of sonnenUSA, believes that Hawaii can meet its 100 percent renewable energy goal through storing solar power, and Haleakala Solar Inc. has partnered with sonnen to make this happen.

“At sonnen, we envision a world where clean and affordable energy for all is available. We’re doing it in Germany now, with our sonnenCommunity of households using sonnenBatterie storage with solar, and we see a pathway to a clean energy future in Hawaii thanks to innovative utility tariffs, market adoption of clean technology and key distribution partnerships with local solar installers and contractors,” stated von Bormann.

HECO representatives voiced their support of the 100 percent goal but stayed firm on their intent to use liquefied natural gas as a bridge fuel to get to a 100 percent renewable future. Hawaii Gov. David Ige does not agree with the use of LNG, believing that investments in LNG infrastructure would be better spent on renewable energy projects.

NextEra Energy, the company that has offered to buy Hawaiian Electric Industries for $4.3 billion, was a major sponsor of the conference, however they did not participate on a panel or have any visible representation at the Maui Energy Conference. The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission is expected to make a decision on NextEra’s offer this summer.

“The conference panelists presented many innovative local solutions to bring 100 percent renewable energy to Hawaii in the most efficient way possible, without requiring a Mainland takeover by NextEra,” said Stanley Chang, consultant with Earthjustice.

Because Hawaii is helping to pave the way, the journey to a 100 percent renewable future will not be easy. There will be bumps and roadblocks along the way, complete with differing opinions on the best way to get there. However, it’s safe to agree that, as a renewable energy leader in the country, Hawaii already has so much to be proud of.

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Take Advantage of Solar Tax Credits

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Tax policies have played a crucial role in the advancement of renewable energy in the United States. The Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which is a 30% federal tax credit available for solar PV and solar water heating systems, has been hailed as the “cornerstone of continued growth of solar energy” by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

History of Federal Tax Credit

The ITC was first implemented from January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2007 as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. With unprecedented growth including the amount of solar capacity installed in 2007 being double the capacity installed in 2006, the commercial and residential solar ITC was extended through the end of 2016.

The federal tax subsidy is recognized for stabilizing the solar industry and providing an incentive that has enabled annual solar installation to expand by more than 1,600 percent since the ITC was first applied in 2006.

Current Status of Federal Tax Credit

The solar industry had been preparing for the federal tax credit to expire in 2016, but the 30% credit has been extended until 2019. The credit will then reduce to 26% in 2020, 22% in 2021, and 10% in 2022.

According to GTM Research, the ITC extension will result in $40 billion in incremental solar investment between 2016 and 2020. “The ITC extension currently written into the omnibus spending bill will result in a 20-gigawatt annual solar market in the U.S. by 2020,” said Shayle Kann, senior VP of GTM Research. “At that rate, more solar will be installed each year than was added to the grid cumulatively through 2014.”

State of Hawaii Tax Credit

In addition to the federal tax credit, Hawaii residents and business owners can take advantage of the state’s renewable energy tax credit, which has existed since 1976.

Hawaii’s tax credit was intended to provide a credit for each solar system installed, but the word “system” acquired new meaning when micro-inverters were successfully introduced into the market in 2008. Due to the structure of the micro-inverter system and unclear wording that could interpret a system according to the number of inverters or connections to the electricity system, homeowners claimed each micro-inverter as a separate system and even installed systems with multiple connections to the electrical grid for no apparent electrical purpose, in order to apply for more than one state tax credit.

To avoid this confusion and stop the abuse of renewable energy credits while still encouraging solar adoption, a law was passed in 2013 that redefines a solar energy system according to its total output capacity, or the amount of kilowatts generated.

The Hawaii state tax credit for PV system installations is currently set at 35%, up to $5,000 per system, on a single family residential property. Solar water heater installations on single family homes also qualify for a 35% tax credit, up to $2,250.

With a sunny climate year-round coupled with among the highest electric rates in the nation, the savings associated with solar energy are attractive enough to justify a solar installation investment, but add the 30% federal and 35% state tax credits in and it’s a no-brainer. Contact Haleakala Solar today to find out about the best solar solution for you.

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SolaTrim Provides Haleakala Solar With Aesthetics Solutions for Hawaii HOA and AOAO

New HOA and AOAO policies for Solar Installers in Maui

Haleakala Solar has been installing solar photovoltaic panels and hot water systems since 1977, one of the oldest solar companies in the state of Hawaii. Through the years there have been more and more demands for PV (photovoltaic systems). The HOA (Home Owners’ Association) and AOAO (Association of Apartment Owners) recently came out with new policies for solar installation in regards to aesthetics and protection. One of these included a mandate to include skirting around the solar array which would be more aesthetically pleasing by covering the panel framework.

Because of HOAs new aesthetic guidelines, Haleakala Solar began looking for a cost-effective and easy-to-install solution that would be in line with the HOA solar installation guidelines. The Haleakala Solar team opted to come up with their own solution and designed a skirting system that was aesthetically pleasing, built to last, and met with the HOA guidelines. However; with the high demand of solar photovoltaic installations for apartments and condominium complexes they found that the time it took to make and install the company-made skirting, it was time-consuming and expensive and ended up lowering the overall operational capacity. It was time for a new solution.

SolaTrim To The Aesthetic Rescue

solar panel skirtingThe head engineer of the Wailea Community Association was introduced to a skirting product called SolaTrim by Tony Racanelli, SolaTrim’s rep in Hawaii. After learning about the product, he asked Haleakala Solar to take a look at the SolaTrim skirting solution to see what they thought. The team at Haleakala Solar came to discover that the SolaTrim skirting solution addressed many of their needs for a robust, aesthetically-pleasing, yet cost-effective skirt that would meet the requirements of HOA and AOAO.

Haleakala Solar began using SolaTrim for their HOA and AOAO customers and were able to eliminate many costs and save a lot of time associated with manufacturing their own skirting. These savings meant the ability to save money for their customers. Not only is aesthetic skirting for solar arrays pleasing to look at, the skirting also protects the panels from unwanted pests that may build nests under the array. The SolaTrim skirting was found to be sturdy, even in tropical storm conditions. SolaTrim states that their skirting system has been tested for military-grade applications and is designed to be sturdy enough to last for the lifetime of the solar photovoltaic rooftop system… no matter the weather.

To learn more, be sure to visit the SolaTrim website today.

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