Molokai Taps Solar Power


Molokai, the Hawaiian island just east of O'ahu, is gradually shifting to solar power, significantly cutting its high electricity rates.

Last month, Molokai’s Kualapu‘u Public Conversion Charter School, which enrolls more than 90 percent Native Hawaiian students, established self-sufficiency by installing a PV powerhouse, equipped with a 50-kilowatt inverter and 189 total panels, run by ProVision Solar of Hilo. The move puts an end to its once $10,000-per-month electricity bill.

“Financially it makes sense,” Kualapu‘u Principal Lydia Trinidad, Native Hawaiian said.

Also making the transition, the Nature Conservancy's office on Molokai hired Rising Sun Solar of Maui to install an 8.88-kilowat photovoltaic array on its roof to transmit sunlight-powered electricity throughout its building, reports mauinews.com.

"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 executive director, to mauinews.com. "It's good for Hawaii both economically and in terms of sustainability."

Both the school and nature conservancy will provide excess solar energy to Maui Electric Company. Rather than receiving payments for this surplus power, under net energy metering contracts, the buildings will earn energy credits that can be used on cloudy days to draw energy from the local utility company.