Monday, May 31, 2010

Education Leaders Should Exploit Solar Strategies

There are many financial models available today that allow homeowners, businesses and school districts to finance solar installation. Ranging from an outright purchase to a no cost solution where a purchase power agreement is executed, there is truly something for everyone. In that light, a perfect example of schools showing vision exists in Hawaii.

Hawaii Pacific Solar has just obtained the Hawaii Department of Education's first solar power contract. The contract is a component of a two-year plan by the Hawaii Department of Energy to bring solar power to the state’s public schools.

“Utilizing renewable-energy sources to reduce the cost of school operations is a top priority for the D.O.E.,” said Randy Moore, assistant superintendent of the Office of School Facilities and Support Services.

Hawaii Pacific Solar will install solar panels free of charge at four high schools and an intermediate school on the island of Oahu. The company will sell the solar energy at a discount to the D.O.E. and, in turn, can claim tax credits.

The department initially will purchase power for about 20 cents per kilowatt hour, increasing to about 33 cents over 20 years. The projected cost savings in the first year are expected to range between $3,500 and $3,700 per school. Similar projects are planned for Kauai this year, followed by the Big Island, Maui and remaining schools on Oahu.

This is a perfect example of a bold vision, supported by a strong partner. For schools especially, where lack of capital is the most profound, a no cost power purchase agreement solution should be sought by every district - in every state.

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