Honolulu Star-Bulletin Local News

Kaimuki High will
launch solar program

Isle utilities and government will
back photo-electric panels

By Jerry Tune
Star-Bulletin



Hawaiian Electric Co. will be capturing heat from the sun to help power five public schools.

The company's "Sun Power for Schools" program is designed to educate students and the public about one of Heco's "renewable energy" options that lessens the state's dependence on imported oil.

Kaimuki High School will be the first to get the photovoltaic system. It uses silicon cells to capture solar energy that is fed into a battery storage unit and used as power. The system will be installed on the gymnasium roof sometime between February and April, said Art Seki, Heco's renewable-energy specialist.

Other schools will be selected later, based on their ability to use the sun's energy and the interest in the pilot program, Seki said. The schools will be on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island.

The small, 2-kilowatt systems will only provide about 1 percent of each school's total energy needs, but will save the schools about $400 a year each, Seki said.

The program will be launched Friday at 11:30 a.m. at Kaimuki High with Gov. Ben Cayetano and state School Superintendent Herman Aizawa.

Each system costs about $20,000 and will be supplied by ASE Americas Inc. of Billerica, Mass.

"It's a simple system, quick to connect," Seki said.

Heco is supplying $100,000 for the program in the next two years, with Hawaii Electric Light Co. and Maui Electric Light Co. each adding $20,000 and the U.S. Department of Energy adding $50,000. Additional funds for more schools will be sought from the public. For information on how to donate, contact 543-7511.

Seki also said that Hickam Air Force Base is installing a photovoltaic system with 18 kilowatts of power on a base building in December. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is paying $290,000 for the project to judge photovoltaic's success in reducing air pollution and energy demand, he said.




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