Thursday, July 31, 2014         

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Bishop Museum powers up with solar

The PV system will cut the institution's electricity bills and serve as an exhibit

By Star-Advertiser staff


Bishop Museum opened a new exhibit of sorts Thursday — a 10,800-square-foot photovoltaic system.

The system's primary purpose is to generate electricity at a savings compared with traditional utility power, but some of the 720 solar panels also will be integrated with museum educational programs tied to harnessing nature's energy.

The 170-kilowatt solar system project was installed by Energy Industries, a local energy project developer, and funded through a power purchase agreement with Solar Power Partners.

"We are extremely excited about the launch of this solar project not only because of its cost-saving benefits, but because this project will also serve as a learning tool for our visitors," said Timothy Johns, museum president and CEO. "Some of the learning programs connected to this new photovoltaic system include an interpretative display and ‘Family Science Nights' here at the Mamiya Science Adventure Center."

The project is part of a growing trend among Hawaii businesses and government organizations cutting energy costs by installing solar generation systems that provide electricity for less than they pay utility companies.

The museum complex in Kapalama joins dozens of public and private buildings — including Punahou School, Molokai General Hospital, Walmart and the state's Kalanimoku Building — that now feature rooftop PV systems.

Bishop Museum said the PV system on the museum's roofs and grounds will save the organization hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of the system.

It also will reduce the museum's dependence on fossil fuels by 250,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, the carbon dioxide emissions equivalent of driving a car 424,243 miles.

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