Plugging into sun’s power
The state is hoping to install solar energy systems at many sites
Enough solar energy shines on Hawaii's airport parking lots by day to light them by night.
That is the premise behind a plan to generate up to 34 megawatts of electricity with photovoltaic systems at airports and harbors -- within the next two years, Gov. Linda Lingle's office announced yesterday.
Sites would include 11 state Department of Transportation facilities, plus the Hawaii Foreign Trade Zone in downtown Honolulu.
By pitching the renewable-energy project as a public-private partnership, the state will not have to pay for it, according to the Governor's Office.
"This is one of the largest, if not the largest, state government solar initiatives in the nation," said Ted Liu, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, which is cooperating in the project.
Generating 34 megawatts of electricity will reduce Hawaii's need for approximately 130,000 barrels of fuel oil per year and would generate enough power to supply about 9,000 homes per year, the governor's release said.
Photovoltaic systems will be installed on the rooftops of parking garages, airport terminals, hangars and other buildings, specifications for the project show.
The new interisland parking structure is in line to get them at Honolulu Airport.
Other planned sites are Kalaeloa, Kahului, Lihue, Molokai and Lanai airports; Honolulu and Nawiliwili harbors; and DOT Highway Division district offices on Oahu and Kauai.
"Constructing large solar power arrays at DOT sites and in downtown Honolulu capitalizes on one of Hawaii's most abundant natural resources and produces energy without polluting the environment," Lingle said in the project announcement. "This project also shows that state government is leading by example in the critical areas of energy and the environment."
About 20 private companies have expressed interest in building the photovoltaic systems at their expense, then having the state buy all the electricity they produce for a minimum of 20 years, DOT spokesman Scott Ishikawa said.
The arrangement benefits the state with no out-of-pocket costs and assurance of a stable, long-term power budget, the governor's release said.
Participating companies can benefit from state and federal energy tax credits, Liu said.
Ishikawa said the project idea started at the Kona airport, in connection with a parking lot expansion, and was expanded to other DOT sites.