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Sunny Side Up?

Solar Panels

Section of a photovoltaic system built to help power the Maui Economic Development Board.

As we gather items for our NOW section each month, we always sift through a flurry of unrelated press releases. But this time around, there seemed to be a theme: solar power.

First, there was Suntech Hawaii, a Kailua-based energy company, which is teaming up with MK Kona Common LLC to develop an 804-kilowatt photovoltaic system, enough electricity to power 128 homes and eliminate 1.8 million pounds of carbon emissions per year. The Big Island mall project is the joint venture of the MacNaughton Group and Kobayashi Group, both based in Hawaii.

We also received a press release saying the photovoltaic array built on top of Sam’s Club on Keeaumoku Street was running smoothly. Built by SunEdison, the 283-kilowatt system reportedly supplies 10 percent to 15 percent of the store’s power. Wal-Mart plans to install such systems on three more stores in Hawaii.

The state, too, announced in January that in two years, it plans to build 12 systems, mostly on top of transportation department buildings, reducing the state’s need for oil by 130,000 barrels per year and generating enough to power about 9,000 homes per year. Next was a release from REC Solar and Mitsubushi Electric about completing two solar systems atop Costco Wholesale Stores on Kauai and in Kona. The two systems will power about 250 homes.

The last announcement, at deadline, was from Hilo-based ProVision Technologies, which was commissioned to install two photovoltaic systems (totaling 63.55 kilowatts) for the Maui Economic Development Board in Kihei. The systems will be operated by Mill Valley, California-based Solar Power Partners, who will sell the power to MEDB. The system, over its lifetime, is expected to reduce the need for 110,000 gallons of diesel fuel.

Since Hawaii is regularly featured nationally for having the highest fuel prices, all we can say is, “Keep those press releases coming.”

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Hawaii Business,March