Shopping center will be solar powered
STORY SUMMARY »
The Big Island is set to have the state's largest rooftop solar-power installation, atop the Kona Commons shopping center.
Developer MK Kona Commons LLC, a venture of the MacNaughton Group and Kobayashi Group, has contracted Kailua-based Suntech Hawaii to build an 804-kilowatt photovoltaic system for the retail project.
It will be the first shopping center in Hawaii to use such a system.
The system, which will supply about 25 percent of the mall's energy when completed this fall, is expected to cost between $5 million and $6 million, or roughly $7 per watt, though it will save an estimated $37 million in electricity costs for Kona Commons over 30 years.
FULL STORY »
Kona Commons, the Big Island's latest retail project, will be the first solar-powered shopping center in Hawaii.
MK Kona Commons LLC, a joint venture of the MacNaughton Group and Kobayashi Group, has contracted Kailua-based Suntech Hawaii to build what will be the state's largest rooftop solar project, an 804-kilowatt photovoltaic system to turn sunlight into electricity.
The system, which will supply about 25 percent of the mall's energy, is expected to produce more than 1.1 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year, or enough to power 128 homes and eliminate 1.8 million pounds of carbon emissions annually, Suntech said.
The cost of the solar project, which is expected to be placed in service when the mall opens this fall, is estimated at between $5 million and $6 million, or roughly $7 per watt. Suntech has estimated the system will save about $37 million in electricity costs for Kona Commons over 30 years.
Jeff Arce, a partner in the MacNaughton Group, said a similar system is being planned for the Kapolei Commons retail project on Oahu, which is slated to open next year.
Costco Wholesale also has announced plans for solar installations on its Hawaii stores, while other retailers such as Wal-Mart and Safeway already have begun investing in such systems on their mainland stores.
Hawaii's electricity rates are the highest in the nation and rising, said Suntech's president, Sean Mullen.
"The Kona Commons project is a direct reflection of the commercial appeal photovoltaics have in Hawaii's energy marketplace," he said.
Switching to renewable energy sources is important for businesses that want to limit environmental impact, since Hawaii produces most of its electricity from imported fossil fuels.
"Sustainable building practices are consistent with the corporate culture we've built as an environmentally responsible developer," said B.J. Kobayashi, chief executive officer of the Kobayashi Group. "At Kona Commons, investing in solar not only made sense for the bottom line, but it was also the clearest statement we could make to our tenants and the people of Hawaii about our commitment to the environment."
Suntech will place an educational kiosk at Kona Commons to illustrate how much energy is being produced by its photovoltaic system and encourage customers to support renewable energy, Mullen said.