New photovoltaic system to save city thousands in electricity costs

HALAWA (HawaiiNewsNow) - By: Melanie Yamaguchi

The power of the sun over a Halawa baseyard will help the city go green and save money too.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell unveiled a new photovoltaic system at the Halawa Corporation Yard Thursday in a traditional Hawaiian blessing.

"It reduces the burden of the people of the county, but it is also about all of us living a little better and a little more sustainable with a smaller footprint," Caldwell said. "We don't have to import oil and export our dollars ... and in doing so we're just using the sun to generate electricity."

The baseyard's 280-kilowatt system includes nearly 1,200 photovoltaic panels installed on two large platforms covering most of the parking deck. Annually, the system is estimated to produce approximately 45 percent of the facility's total energy needs in the early morning and late afternoon, enough total electricity to power almost 65 Oahu homes. During peak hours when the sun is at its strongest, it would produce up to 100 percent of its energy.

The $2.3 million project, funded by the City and County of Honolulu, involved planning and installation by companies such as Ralph S. Inouye Co., Ronald Ho & Associates and American Electric.

"Construction was done while we still maintained city operations so that was a challenge for them," said Allyn Lee, chief of the city's Department of Design and Construction Energy Conservation and Indoor Electrical Branch.

Caldwell said he expects the project to pay for itself in 17 years without the city receiving any tax credits. It is projected to save the city about $138,000 per year in electricity costs.

"This is assuming that oil prices stay at today's price," Caldwell said. "We know oil is a finite resource and it's going up and every year we're going to see increases which means it will pay for itself probably more quickly."

In the meantime, the city has been planning other energy projects with neighbor islands that produce much of the state's alternative energy, he said, including a deep-water cable.

"At some point, some of that energy could be brought here through a cable," Caldwell said. "But we need to cooperate, we need to help. We need to malama to make sure that if we're bringing the energy here, something is happening in a good way to the neighbor islands who are carrying the burden of generating that energy."

By 2030, a total of 70 percent of Hawaii's energy should come from renewable energy or energy conservation, Caldwell said.

The Halawa Corporation Yard's photovoltaic system's energy production can be monitored online

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