Renewable Energy Generation

The Department seeks to reduce its reliance on fossil fuel-based energy by 90 percent by 2040, as directed by the Board of Education and passage of Act 96, SLH 2006. We have ambitious yet achievable goals to power our schools through sustainable energy generation.

​​Hawaii's goal

The Department's PV projects will help fulfill the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative’s goal of 70 percent clean energy by 2030, through energy efficiency and the development and implementation of renewable energy sources, as well as Board of Education Policy 6710, which sets a visionary goal of reducing the Department's reliance on fossil fuel-based energy by 90 percent by 2040.

​​​​​​​​​​​​Background

In 2006, Act 96 was passed which defined the State’s goal to provide a comprehensive set of proposals to assist the State in achieving energy self-sufficiency. With the passage of Act 96, the Department established a pilot program to set up solar PV installations. Per Act 96, the PV installations generate adequate energy savings and cover any roof repairs where the PV systems are installed. The Department’s Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Hawaii Pacific Solar achieved the purpose and goals of Act 96.

Section 2 of this act pertained to “Renewable Energy and Energy-Efficiency in Hawaii’s Public Schools,” and provided
$5 million to develop and implement a photovoltaic (PV), net energy metered pilot project in public schools. The objectives:

  1. To have, at minimum, a project site at one public school within each of the counties of Oahu, Hawaii, Kauai and Maui;
  2. To allow installation of photovoltaic systems to be timed in conjunction with substantial roof repairs or roof replacement of a building to further reduce project costs;
  3. To use the application of net energy metering to offset costs of the system;
  4. To recapture system costs within three quarters of the useful life of the photovoltaic system; and
  5. When advantageous, to use energy-savings contracts such as third-party lease or purchase contracts to maximize the objectives of this section.

REPORT ON ACT 96
The funds were released for this project and the Department selected a consultant to implement this program. The contract with the consultant includes the following deliverables:

  1. Rating and selection of schools based on a weighted scorecard.
  2. Develop basis of design and determine optimal implementation.
  3. Measurement, verification and reporting of pilot results one year after PV installation.

Based on the pilot project’s objectives, the Department determined that it is not economically feasible for it to purchase and install PV systems without taking advantage of the federal and state tax credits. Therefore, a better strategy of obtaining PV systems for our schools would be to develop a power purchase agreement (PPA) and have a third party vendor install, own and maintain the PV systems. The Department would purchase the kilowatt-hours generated by the system at a discounted rate.

The Department developed a Request For Proposals (RFP) for the installation of four PV systems at schools on Oahu. In response to the RFP, the Department awarded its first power purchase agreement to Hawaii Pacific Solar, LLC. Hawaii Pacific Solar installed the PV systems at no cost to the Department at Kaimuki High, Aiea High, Waianae High and Kahuku High. The selected school sites met various criteria, including substantial electrical use, outstanding roof repairs and maximum sunshine. The PV installation was completed in 2012.

Based on the PPA, the Department will purchase power at a rate of about 20 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). This rate will rise to approximately 33 cents per kWh over the 20-year contract period. (On Oahu, the Department pays Hawaiian Electric 31.77 cents per kWh.) To date, the monthly savings average $2,200 to $3,000 per school based on the monthly kWhs generated and the PPA negotiated rate. Also, if required, roof repair and maintenance will be the responsibility of Hawaii Pacific Solar.

Expansion of the pilot PV project

  • OAHU: With the success of the initial four PV pilot schools, the Department elected to expand the PV installations on Oahu to include three more schools: Radford High, Moanalua High and Aliamanu Middle. The first year purchase power rate for these schools is $0.2045 per kWh escalating at 2.75% each year for the term of the agreement. The PV systems for these schools came online in early 2013. The Oahu contract with Hawaii Pacific Solar was expanded to another 25 Oahu schools located in the Aiea, Waianae, Kahuku and Kaimuki complexes. As of October 2015, two schools were awaiting installation. TOTAL SCHOOLS: 32
  • KAUAI: The Department issued an RFP in June 2011 to install PV systems at the 15 public schools on Kauai, which was awarded to Hawaii Pacific Solar. The first year rate is 16.9 cents per kWh and will rise 2.75% annually over the course of the 20-year contract period. The average kWh rate paid to Kauai Island Utility Cooperative is 40.18 cents per kWh. As of October 2015, installation was completed at seven schools, with seven others in construction and one mobilizing. TOTAL SCHOOLS: 15

The chart below shows the negotiated power purchase price based on reduced energy consumption through the PV program.


Regular rate PV Power Purchase Rate (1st year)
Oahu Schools 31.77 cents/kWh 20 cents/kWh
Kauai Schools 40.18 cents/kWh 16.9 cents/kWh

Real-time energy monitoring

Teachers, students, the Department and the public can follow along with the savings by viewing real-time monitors on Hawaii Pacific Solar's website.​

Ka Hei

The Ka Hei program will expand PV installation at Department schools, as well as wind turbines and other energy-saving systems as deemed appropriate for school facilities.

Heat Abatement Plan​Solar energy is also being used to help cool Department schools.

Contact Information

Gilbert Chun

Phone: 808-586-3452

Email: gilbert_chun@hawaiidoe.org

Strategic Plan 2017-2020

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