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State launches energy savings & education program at schools

By Star-Advertiser Staff

LAST UPDATED: 2:59 p.m. HST, Mar 5, 2014

The state Department of Education Wednesday launched a renewable energy and efficiency program that will cut its energy consumption by a projected 25 percent over five years while providing a foundation for real-world educational opportunities focusing on science, technology, engineering and math.

Aspects of the program, which include the installation of solar panels and small wind turbines, improved energy management and water conservation measures, will be rolled out at all 255 DOE schools statewide.

Chevron Energy Solutions was selected through a competitive bidding process to undertake the program for the DOE. The company will install 100 megawatts of renewable energy generating capacity under the project and sell the electricity to the DOE at a price below what the department currently pays Hawaiian Electric Co. for power.

The project, dubbed "Ka Hei," is expected to produce $24 million savings in operating expenses over five years from the lower electricity rates and other efficiency measures.

"Ka Hei offers exciting opportunities on a number of levels, from educating our students about a multitude of energy components and workforce opportunities to strengthening communities and partnerships in the state's energy sustainability goals," said Kathryn Matayoshi, superintendent of education.

Specific sites for the installation of PV panels have not yet been determined, another DOE official said. Chevron and HECO will work together to determine which locations can accommodate more solar energy production given issues of PV saturation on circuits in some areas served by HECO.

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