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Moloka'i Solar Installation Crew
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Molokai's new rooftop solar system.
The Nature Conservancy’s Moloka’i office is sporting a new look—a large rooftop photovoltaic system that will significantly reduce energy costs while providing enough power to meet the office’s electricity needs for years.
“We were able to basically cover all of our energy needs and put a cap on our energy costs into the future,” said Suzanne Case, the Conservancy’s Hawai‘i executive director. “It’s good for Hawai’i both economically and in terms of sustainability.”
The 8.88-kilowatt photovoltaic array was installed by Maui’s Rising Sun Solar at the Conservancy office in the Moloka‘i Industrial Park on the hot leeward side of the island. The PV system will use solar energy to power lights, electronics,
air conditioning and other office needs.
“Tapping into the clean, renewable energy resources that Hawai‘i has in such abundance holds tremendous potential for Moloka‘i, which has one of the highest electrical rates in the nation,” said Matias Besasso, a partner with Rising Sun Solar. “Not only can it reduce costs, but it can lead to job creation and greater energy independence and self-sufficiency for Molokai’s people.”
Ed Misaki, the Conservancy’s Moloka‘i director, said installation of the new system has been in the works for three years. “Going green is one of our big goals,” he added, noting that the new array will be hooked up and dedicated on Dec. 1, 2010.
Misaki said the Conservancy’s Moloka‘i office will remain connected to Maui Electric’s grid under a Net Energy Metering contract, so that electricity is still available to the office on cloudy days, while excess power can be sold to the utility on days when office power use is low.
Under the terms of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between the Conservancy and Rising Sun Solar, the solar company installs and retains ownership of the system. The Conservancy, meanwhile, incurs no upfront costs for the system but pays a monthly fee for the energy produced by the system. That fee, however, is about 25 percent less than its power bill would otherwise be.
Savings over 12 years are expected to be more than $50,000. After twelve years, the Conservancy will have the option of negotiating a new contract or purchasing the system at fair market value.
“It’s a win-win for us,” said Conservancy Director of Internal Affairs Rico Gomez. The Nature Conservancy on Moloka’i has been paying about 41 cents per kilowatt-hour, and under the new arrangement initially will pay 30 cents, he said.
The Conservancy already has a large 12.6-kilowatt photovoltaic array atop its downtown Honolulu office, and recognizes both the environmental value and the energy cost savings of going solar, Gomez said.
At both the Honolulu and the Moloka’i offices, the Conservancy started by making significant improvements in the efficiency of its lighting fixtures and other electrical demands. That is not only an environmentally sound practice on its own, but it reduces the size of the photovoltaic system.
“Every single one of us has to do what we can to reduce our use of fossil fuels—to try to put a limit on global warming, which poses a serious threat to nature and people,” Case said.
The Nature Conservancy Moloka‘i office photovoltaic system
Installer: Rising Sun Solar http://www.risingsunsolar.com/
Array size: 8.88 kilowatts
Panels: (48) Schuco 185 Watt panels and SMA 10000 Watt inverter
DC to AC conversion: 10000-Watt SMA inverter
System cost : $69,596
Cost of generated power over 12 years, $53,572.01
Estimated comparative cost of utility power during the 12 years: $109,295.32
Nature Conservancy estimated energy cost savings: $55,723.31
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have helped protect 130 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at http://www.nature.org/
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.