Sun will power school on Niihau
A new photovoltaic system that will be installed by summer will run computers
The only school on the Forbidden Isle is getting full power and, for the first time, computers.
Niihau, a privately owned island roughly 30 miles off the west coast of Kauai and home to about 160 residents, has one school for the island's children. Up until now the island had power only from generators.
But thanks to a federal grant and a state-and-county partnership, the school will get power from a photovoltaic power system, county officials announced Friday.
The new power system also will allow the school to have a refrigerator and a freezer, as well as computers and printers for the first time, said Daniel Hamada, district superintendent for the state Department of Education.
The system will help "provide the students and staff with fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products and fresh and frozen meats, fish and poultry," he added.
The components of the system are expected to arrive on Kauai in the next few months, then transported via barge to Niihau and installed by summer, said Glenn Sato, energy coordinator with the Kauai Office of Economic Development.
The total cost for the photovoltaic power system with battery storage is $207,000. The majority of funds came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, with additional funds from the county and the education department. Niihau Ranch also installed wires and donated a concrete pad for the modules as well as the shipping and installation services.
"For many years, Niihau Ranch has desired to make the entire island of Niihau self-sufficient in energy use," said Bruce Robinson, who owns the island. "This project, which will supply 100 percent of the school's electric power from solar cells, is an important part of this goal."