Military Continues Commitment to Solar Energy

William Boudra
William Boudra
Navy Petty Officer Salvador Rico
Navy Petty Officer Salvador Rico

SALT LAKE (KHNL) -- Global warming is forcing many people to examine how it could impact our island state.

Including the military, which began it's effort to go green a decade ago.

This Salt Lake military neighborhood leads the way in helping protect the environment.

Almost all have solar hot water panels on their roofs that convert the sun's energy into usable power.

"That solar heat offsets the need to heat the water with either electricity or natural gas," said solar energy expert William Boudra.

This equipment is the heart of the home's energy efficient system. Water circulates from the solar panel through this pipe, heating water in this water tank.

Navy Petty Officer Salvador Rico lives in one of these energy efficent homes.

Not only does the solar system heat his water naturally, it's actually less hassle for him.

"I'm grateful for is that with these trade winds, conventional heaters you have to light a match and turn on a pilot," said Rico.  "With these, you don't have to worry about it either.

He says he doesn't even notice it.

"No difference. It's all transparent to us."

The system may be transparent but the savings are quite evident.

"It has been measured the average savings to a military home using solar hot water is $860  per year per home," said Boudra.

That translates to about $3 million in savings for these solar efficient homes, not to mention helping protect the environment.

"It feels great that we're looking forward and taking measures now to prevent, rather than react," Rico said.

It's a commitment, the U.S. military says, to Hawaii's environment and the future of the next generation.

Military housing at Kaneohe Marine Corps Base, Ford Island and Pearl City also have solar energy homes.

The military plans to introduce new "green" programs later this year.