Landmark property to feature Downtown's largest solar panel installation

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A landmark property will soon feature Downtown Honolulu's largest solar installation.

Hawaii Pacific University is expanding the photovoltaic system that crews are installing on the rooftops of the Aloha Tower Marketplace.

The expansion will more than double the capacity of the system to 660 kilowatts.

HPU officials said the project would save the school an estimated $1.7 million over the 20-year power purchase agreement.

"HPU is always looking at sustainable efforts. Obviously, we also want to control costs for our students and so the PV program allows us to stabilize our utility costs for the future," said Bruce Edwards, HPU's chief financial officer. "Right now, our tuition rates are $24,200 a year and so we'll avoid some of the increases that we might have to pass along to students by doing this project."

The first phase is expected to be operational by the end of this summer. The installation of the second phase is scheduled to be finished by early 2019.

"HPU doesn't have to worry about their return investment because it doesn't require any investment on their part. There's a third-party investor that has invested in the system and they're the ones who are going to have to maintain it," explained Ted Peck, chief executive officer of Holu Energy, the Hawaii-based subsidiary of EnSync Energy.

The panels for the first phase came in before President Donald Trump approved a tariff on imported solar panels. Peck said the tariff did push up the cost for the second phase, but he's confident that the solar industry will find ways to develop future projects.

"It's only a four-year tariff and it starts to taper off. It certainly doesn't help, but I think good old American ingenuity and people sharpening their pencils are still finding ways to continue to do projects," he said.

As part of the power purchase agreement, HPU may consider a third solar installation.

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