Hawaii Solar Blog

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.

going green

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Will Hawaii Reach Its 100% Renewable Energy Goal?

Hawaii renewable-energy-goal

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

solar tax credits

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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What Is Photovoltaic?

ten seconds of sunlight provides enough energy

Enough sunlight falls on the earth’s surface every hour to meet world energy demand for an entire year. This sunlight can be converted into electricity through a method known as the photovoltaic (PV) effect.

Solar panel history

Although solar technology was used as far back as 7th century BC and there are records of ancient Romans utilizing the sun to warm their houses in the 6th century AD, nineteen-year old French physicist Alexandre Edmund Becquerel is credited with discovering the photovoltaic effect in 1839 while experimenting with a solid electrode in an electrolyte solution. Silver chloride was placed in an acidic solution and illuminated while connected to platinum electrodes. During the experiment, Becquerel found that certain materials would produce small amounts of electric current when exposed to light. The word “photovoltaic” was formed by combining light (photons) and electricity (voltage).

How do solar photovoltaic panels work?

The basic unit of a solar photovoltaic panel is a solar cell (aka PV cell). Each photovoltaic cell is made up of at least two layers of semi-conducting material, usually silicon, one of the most common elements on earth. Boron is added to one layer of silicone, resulting in fewer electrons and a positive charge, while the other layer is dosed with phosphorous, which adds extra electrons creating a negative charge. These positive and negative layers create an electric field.

Sunlight is composed of packets of energy called photons. These photons contain various amounts of energy corresponding to various wavelengths of light. When photons strike a solar cell, they may be reflected, absorbed, or pass right through. When enough photons are absorbed by the negative layer of the solar cell, electrons are knocked loose from the atoms in the negative semiconductor material. These freed electrons naturally migrate to the positive layer creating a voltage differential.

If electrical conductors are attached to the positive and negative sides, forming an electrical circuit, the electrons can be captured in the form of an electric current, forming electricity. Since the electricity generated by solar cells is direct current (DC), it is then sent to an inverter that converts the power into the same alternating current (AC) used by the appliances in your home and the local distribution grid.

Each individual solar energy photovoltaic cell produces only 1-2 watts. To increase power output, photovoltaic cells are electrically connected to each other and mounted in a weather-tight support structure called a solar module. These modules are then wired up in serial and/or parallel with one another into a solar array to generate the desired voltage and amperage output required to meet the business or home’s energy needs.

Solar power can be used to lower your electric bill or, with battery backup, even enable you to get off the electric grid and not have to depend on the utility company. The size of the solar photovoltaic array, inverter, and battery required for a PV installation depends on a number of factors, including the amount of electricity you use, the amount of sunlight received, and peak electricity demand at any given time. Contact one of our friendly associates at Haleakala Solar to determine the right photovoltaic system for you.

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A Fresh Look At The Progress of the GEMS Program

GEMS solar loan program

A while back, we reported about the creation of the state’s Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) program, and we thought it was time to circle back and take a current look into the program’s status.

GEMS was enacted under Act 211, Session Laws of Hawaii 2013, as a financing program that would provide low-cost capital to make solar photovoltaic systems and other clean energy improvements more affordable and accessible to underserved communities including non-profits, renters, and lower-income homeowners who may not qualify for a loan to install solar. The program is considered a key component of reaching Hawaii’s clean energy goals, currently 30 percent renewable energy by 2020, 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 (previously 70 percent clean energy by 2030 when GEMS was passed), and 30 percent reduction in 2008 electrical energy consumption by 2030.

In its first phase, GEMS is concentrating on solar PV technologies because of the islands’ strong solar market and low technology risk. Nine companies have already been approved to work on installations for GEMS program solar projects. Eleven companies are pending approval, one company was denied, and another company withdrew its application.

As of November 2015, there have been a total of about 150 applications received since the program first began accepting applications in March 2015 for nonprofits and June 2015 for individuals. Twelve applications were submitted from non-profits and small businesses, of which five have been pre-qualified, four are pending review, and three have been denied. GEMS is working on evaluating over 2.3 megawatts of solar project leads for pre-qualified nonprofit loans. Out of 106 consumer loan applications, 47 were pre-approved, 18 pending, and 35 denied.

In a new report, the United States Department of Energy recognized Hawaii, along with seven other states, for “choosing to develop and grow their clean energy markets, despite the ongoing pressure to reduce government spending.” Hawaii was specifically praised for its efforts to shift away from its dependence on oil as part of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative and its plan to bring clean, affordable energy to a broader demographic through the GEMS program.

Some have criticized the program for being slow (since no solar systems have been installed yet) and complained that the program is funded by the “Green Energy Infrastructure Fee” paid by all utility ratepayers. However, the DOE pointed out that the charge is less than $1.50 a month and is offset by lowering the existing public benefits fee.

Ultimately, GEMS is capable of financing the installation of over 44 MWs of energy, helping up to 30,000 underserved Hawaii consumers reduce their energy expenses, and supporting Hawaii to achieve its clean energy mandates.

To find out more about the GEMS program, click here.

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Federal Solar Tax Credits To Be Extended

solar tax credits extended

On Friday, December 18, 2015, right before lawmakers adjourned for the holidays, Congress passed a spending bill making the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) available for several more years and extending the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind power and other renewable energy technologies. President Obama has voiced support of the extensions and is expected to sign the bill into law.

The solar Investment Tax Credit, which was scheduled to step down to 10% on January 1, 2017 and expire entirely for individuals, was extended for as many as eight years as part of a $1.15 trillion spending bill. The solar tax credit for utility-scale and commercial solar projects was extended until 2024 with a gradual phase out starting in 2020. The solar tax credit for residential rooftop solar will stay at 30% for three more years, and then decline incrementally through 2021, and remain at 10 percent permanently beginning in 2022. The bill also allows for solar PV projects to claim the solar tax credit for the year in which they begin construction.

“By extending the solar investment tax credit for five years with a commence construction provision and a gradual ramp down, bipartisan members in both Houses have reestablished America as the global leader in clean energy, which will boost our economy and create thousands of jobs across America,” said Solar Energy Industries Association president and CEO Rhone Resch.

The 2.3-cent wind PTC will also be extended through 2016. Projects beginning construction in 2017 will see a 20 percent reduction in the incentive, and the PTC will continue to fall 20 percent each year through 2020.

Geothermal, landfill gas, marine energy, and incremental hydro will all receive a one-year PTC extension and, if developers choose, the technologies will also qualify for a 30 percent ITC. The bill expanded grants for energy and water efficiency as well.

In exchange for the tax credit extensions that Democrats wanted, Republicans got what they hoped for with an end to a 40-year ban on the export of crude oil.

“While lifting the oil ex­port ban re­mains atrocious policy, the wind and solar tax credits in the Om­ni­bus will eliminate around 10 times more car­bon pollution than the ex­ports of oil will add,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

According to GTM Research, the solar ITC extension will help the U.S. have a 20-GW annual solar market and propel nearly 100 cumulative gigawatts of solar installations by 2020, resulting in $130 billion of total investment. That’s enough to power at least 19 million homes and represents 3.5 percent of U.S. electricity generation, which is up from 0.1 percent in 2010.

Article Source:
Green Tech Media

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Hawaiian Electric Companies Propose Time-of-Use Rates For Customers

hawaiian electric proposes time-of-use ratesHawaiian Electric Co. filed proposals seeking to change power rates, encouraging customers to use more energy during off-peak hours when solar power is strongest. One proposal was specifically aimed toward the Hawaii Department of Education, while other rate changes target residential customers and EV owners.

Department of Education
Each of the 240 public schools in HECO territories of Oahu, Hawaii Island, Maui, Molokai, and Lanai would be given the choice of using the new rates, which would vary depending on the time of day.

– From 8am to 4pm (super off-peak hours): About 25 percent less than the recent average effective energy charge
– From 12am to 8am (off-peak hours): A rate equal to the existing energy charge rate
– From 4pm to 12am (on-peak hours): A rate higher than the existing energy charge rate

Although actual savings will depend on how much each school is able to change its use to fit the time-of-use rate periods, compared to 12 months of energy usage ending June 2015, HECO estimates that the Department of Education would have saved about 9 percent on electric bills if the proposed rates been in effect.

“At the Hawaiian Electric Companies, we know the challenges in providing a comfortable learning environment for our students and teachers. There’s been a big push for air conditioning and fans in our public schools so we wanted to find a way to assist in controlling their energy costs as they add this equipment,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service.

Hawaiian Electric is requesting the PUC to make these rates effective by January 5, 2016 and stay in place for ten years, through four to five of the DOE’s two-year budget cycles, to ensure proper evaluation.

Residential Customers
Voluntary time-of-use rates were also proposed for residential customers of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaii Electric Light Company. Current residential rates are 24.4 cents per kilowatt hour on Oahu, 30.3 cents per kilowatt hour on Big Island, 26.3 cents per kilowatt hour on Maui, 30.7 cents per kilowatt hour on Molokai, and 32.2 cents per kilowatt hour on Lanai. Based on current fuel prices and other surcharges, if the proposed rates were effective today, they would be as follows:

rate table

Customers with energy storage systems would be able to store lower-priced energy generated by their rooftop PV systems during the day and then use some of that stored power to offset some of their energy needs during the evening peak period, maximizing their investment in their rooftop solar and energy storage systems.

Electric Vehicle Owners
Customers that own an Electric Vehicle would also be given the opportunity to select from the rate that would best suit their needs. EV rate options are as follows:
– A revised “whole house” rate that would include EV charging along with all of the electricity use measured by a single electric meter at a customer’s home
– A revised rate for customers who have a separate electric meter just for charging electric vehicles.
– For both EV rate options, there is a proposed mid-day period of 9am to 3pm, an on-peak period of 3pm to 9pm, and an off-peak period of 9pm to 9am.

Time-of-use proposals were submitted as part of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission’s ongoing review of distributed energy resource programs. Before any of these rates are made available to customers, they must be reviewed and approved by the PUC, with input from the Hawaii Division of Consumer Advocacy and other parties in the distributed energy resources proceeding.

If new rates are approved by the PUC, customers and public schools will be able to choose whether they want to switch to the time-of-use rates or remain with the flat rate.

“We want to give our customers options to help them manage their bills and encourage the use of more low cost renewable energy. Rate options like these can give customers choices and help us collectively achieve our state’s 100 percent renewable portfolio standards goal,” Alberts said.

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Solar Hot Water Benefits

solar hot water

Solar water heating dates back to the nineteenth century using tanks that were painted black and filled with water. In 1891, Clarence Kemp patented a new system that improved the solar water heater’s ability to retain heat, and the first commercial solar water heater was born.

Large advancements have been made in solar technology over the years, while the need for hot water has grown. Heating water for common household tasks like laundry, washing dishes, cooking, showers and baths accounts for around 30% of a home’s energy usage.

The good news is that switching to solar hot water is one of the easiest ways to reduce your electric bill. In fact, a solar water heater can cut your annual hot water costs by at least half. How much you actually save depends on the climate where you live. In Hawaii, where the climate is pretty sunny year-round, a solar hot water system can end up paying for itself in as little as 3 years. See how solar hot water works.

Not only do you save money on your energy bill that can be put towards other expenses, but a solar water heater also helps the environment by decreasing harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that are released into the atmosphere.

According to mechanical engineers at the University of Wisconsin’s Solar Energy Laboratory, an average four-person household with a standard electric water heater requires approximately 6,400 kilowatt hours of electricity to heat their water annually.

Assuming the electricity is generated by a typical power plant with an efficiency of about 30 percent, the average electric water heater will contribute about eight tons of CO2 every year, which is almost double that produced by a car. The same family of four is responsible for around two tons of CO2 emissions annually if they heat their water using either a natural gas or oil-fired water heater.

Researchers believe that the annual cumulative CO2 emitted by residential water heaters throughout North America is roughly equivalent to that produced by all of the cars and light trucks driving around the continent. In other words, if half of all households converted to solar water heaters, the reduction in CO2 emissions would be the same as doubling the fuel-efficiency of all cars.

Having 50% of all homes use solar water heaters might not be an unrealistic goal. According to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), there are 1.5 million solar water heaters already installed in the U.S. Solar water heater systems are able to work in any climate, and EESI estimates that 40% of all U.S. homes have adequate access to sunlight where an additional 29 million solar water heaters could be installed right now.

Most people don’t give a lot of thought to hot water when they turn on their faucet, but as you can see, how you get your hot water can make a big difference. Use the unlimited power of the sun with a solar hot water heater and both your wallet and the environment benefit.

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World Solar Challenge 2015

Bridgestone World Solar Challenge

solar car

The World Solar Challenge is a competition that seeks to inspire some of the brightest young minds on the planet to address the imperatives of sustainable transport by designing the world’s most efficient electric car. The sun-powered vehicles compete in a 3,000 kilometer (1,864 mile) race across central the desert of Australia from Darwin to Adelaide. This year’s race on October 18-25 was the biggest to date, involving 46 cars from 25 countries and sponsored by Bridgestone.

In 1982, solar pioneers Hans Tholstrup and Larry Perkins, journeyed from west to east Australia in a home-built solar car named Quiet Achiever. Motivated by this feat, Hans urged others to explore the boundaries of sun-powered transport, and the first World Solar Challenge began in 1987 with the help of the South Australian Tourism Commission as a sponsor.

The World Solar Challenge continues to highlight the progress of energy efficiency and promote alternatives to conventional vehicle engines, often influencing the technology in electric cars. Teams from top universities develop the most energy efficient vehicles possible using no more than six square meters of solar panels, and come together every two years to see whose solar vehicle will win the race in one of the world’s harshest environments.

Based on the calculation that a 1000W car would finish the journey in 50 hours, solar cars are allowed a nominal 5kW hours of stored energy, which is 10% of that theoretical figure. All other energy must come from the sun or be recovered from the kinetic energy of the vehicle. Once teams have started the race, they travel as far as possible until 5pm, where they then make camp in the desert and must be fully self-sufficient.

To showcase the diversity of solar EVs, this year’s competition included three distinct classes of vehicles: the Challenger Class, Cruiser Class, and Adventure Class.

Cars in the Challenger Class are aerodynamic, visually stunning masterpieces built for sustained endurance and total energy efficiency. These cars are smaller vehicles that carry only the driver and are timed in a single stage between the two destinations. They must travel the full length of the race with just one charge of their battery. Solar power provides the rest of the energy needed to power the vehicle’s trip. Reigning Dutch champions Nuon Solar Team won the Challenger Class competition with Nuna8, finishing the race in 37 hours 56 minutes to claim its sixth World Solar Challenge.

The Cruiser class was introduced in 2013 to bridge the gap between high end technology and everyday driving practicality. Contestants in this class are timed in two stages, from the starting line in Darwin to Alice Springs (the half-way point) and then again from Alice Springs to Adelaide. Once contestants in this class reach the midway point, they can recharge their batteries from the grid. However all extra energy needed to power the second half of their 932 mile journey must come from the sun.

With a time of 48 hours and 7 minutes, the Japanese Kogakuin University team finished the race first with OWL. However the competition also included scores based on the key criteria of solar kilometers traveled, passenger kilometers, speed, energy efficiency, and a subjective element of design and practicality. With a score of 97.77%, Dutch team Eindhoven took top honors with their four seater family car Stella Lux just edging ahead of Japan’s Kogakuin University with an overall score of 93.92%.

The Adventure Class allows cars built for previous editions of the event that do not comply with the latest requirements to compete again, usually with new team members. This class is also run in two stages with an overnight stop in Alice Springs. The US team of Liberty Christian School of Fort Worth, Texas finished the race first in 45 hours and 37 minutes with Solis Bellator, while the Houston Solar Car team had the most solar car distance, 2,795 solar car kilometers or 1,736 miles, with Sundancer. Sundancer is the first high school vehicle to complete and win the World Solar Challenge Adventure Class.

We love that the World Solar Challenge encourages creating innovative designs for a more sustainable future! We can’t wait to see how the designs, energy efficient technology, and practical features become part of mainstream motoring.

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