Fifteen Kauai schools will soon be powered by the sun in a move that the state of Hawaii estimates will save $30 million over 20 years and help reduce the state’s dependence on oil, Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi announced Tuesday.
"This administration will continue to streamline costs while staying on the path of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels," Abercrombie said in a statement. "By lowering operating costs such as energy, we can focus state resources on student achievement and effective teaching."
They said the Department of Education would pursue similar solar power projects at schools statewide.
Hawaii Pacific Solar will install solar panels at the schools at no cost to the state. The department will buy electricity generated by the panels from Hawaii Pacific Solar a rate of about 16.9 cents per kilowatt hour. The rate will rise to 28 cents an hour over the course of the 20-year contract.
The state forecasts the Kauai effort will generate 4 million kilowatt hours of electrical power per year. That's about 60 percent of the 6.6 million kilowatt hours used public schools on Kauai use each year.
The department will save an estimated $30 million over the life of the project, Abercrombie's office said. The forecast assumes commercial electricity rates will increase an average of 3 percent per year.
Installation will start next month and is expected to be finished by the summer 2014.
The department is also installing solar panels at four Oahu high schools in Aiea, Kahuku, Kaimuki, and Waianae. That pilot project is expected to be finished next year.
Abercrombie said his administration was working to achieve the state's goal of having clean energy sources account for 70 percent of the energy consumed in Hawaii by 2030.
On Monday, the governor appeared at a ceremony marking the delivery of the first Mitsubishi Motors electric vehicle to a U.S. customer. Nissan and General Motors also sell electric cars in Hawaii.