Big Island car dealers get solar systems -- for free
TWO Big Island car dealerships are about to dedicate new solar electric systems they got for free. Nevertheless, they already are saving money, plumping up their bottom lines.
Mayor Harry Kim will dedicate the systems during Tuesday's invitation-only ceremony at Big Island Toyota and Big Island Suzuki at 811 Kanoelehua Ave., in Hilo.
The dealerships, owned by David S. De Luz, Sr. Enterprises Inc., did not incur capital outlay or balance sheet liability, said Marco Mangelsdorf, president of Hilo-based ProVision Technologies Inc., the licensed electrical contractor that designed and installed the systems.
Saving one's own money at another's expense sounds a bit Enronesque, but it isn't, in this case. Participants do call it innovative financing, however.
In addition to the end-user dealerships, the players include ProVision, Maryland-based solar energy company SunEdison LLC and the Bank of Hawaii.
"SunEdison provides the system ... Bankoh owns the system ... and they lease it back to SunEdison and SunEdison in turn (sells) the power, the solar kilowatt-hours to the end-user," Mangelsdorf said. Bankoh gets the tax credit and depreciation.
The financing took three years to structure but future arrangements won't take as long and the players are eager to serve more commercial clients.
This is SunEdison's first such deal in Hawaii, but its mainland clients include Staples, Home Depot and Whole Foods, said Jae Kwak, Bankoh vice president and senior lease officer.
Kwak gives seminars on Bankoh's solar energy leasing plans. One method has the bank take ownership of the equipment, for which it receives the tax credit "and then we can provide a lower lease payment," Kwak said.
"We're speaking to state agencies," pitching cost- and energy-saving deals.
A new 64.5-kilowatt solar electric system will provide for 20 to 25 percent of the Toyota side's electrical need, while the 22-kilowatt system at Big Island Suzuki will generate enough juice to cover 30 percent.
The dealerships were paying about 28 cents a kilowatt-hour to the Hawaii Electric Light Co., the island's electric utility, but will pay SunEdison 21 cents, a 25 percent savings. HELCO's rates have increased an average of 5 percent a year over the past five years, but SunEdison's annual increases will be capped at 2 percent, Mangelsdorf said.
He tells people there is a theoretical possibility that HELCO's rates could decrease. "They laugh at me, but that's just full disclosure," he said.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com