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PV system powers up at West Hawaii Civic Center in Kona

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 5:22 p.m. HST, Jul 26, 2011

The West Hawaii Civic Center in Kailua-Kona on Tuesday turned on a 250-kilowatt solar power system that is projected to save the facility $500,000 in electricity costs during the next 20 years.

REC Solar and SunRun partnered to design and install the $1.8 million photovoltaic system that will generate an estimated 400,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, or the equivalent of 770  barrels of oil, SunRun said in a news release.

SunRun owns and maintains the solar panels and REC Solar managed the installation. Hawaii County will buy the electricity from SunRun at a fixed price for the next 20 years.

SunRun projects the system will save the county $46,000 in the first year, with savings accumulating to $500,000 over the next twenty years. Hawaii County also will be able to earn money on any surplus electricity from the PV system that is fed back into the Hawaii Electric Light Co. grid, according to SunRun.

The project is the first on Hawaii Island done under the state’s new feed-in tariff system that makes it easier for companies to sell electricity to their utility.

"We congratulate the County of Hawaii as the first to take advantage of our new feed-in tariff. The leaders of our County are doing a great job of leading by example to move Hawaii Island to energy independence,” said Jay Ignacio, HELCO president.

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