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Thursday, March 20, 2014


There was a particularly thoughtful editorial page article in the Honolulu Star Advertiser yesterday by Russell Castagnaro, president of Hawaii Information Consortium LLC, entitled:

He summarized the experience of his family after installing solar photovoltaic panels on his roof in 2012:

  • Whole family became energy-conscious.
  • They felt empowered:  happy to control their own energy and to know that they were doing their bit to fight climate change and slow the sea level rice assaulting our beaches.
  • Quoting his 8-year old daughter, Zaffron:  "Because of PV I get to eat dessert."
  • The benefits are not only emotional, but also financial:
    • They now can charge their Nissan Leaf (and this is significant, for electricity in Honolulu costs 36 cents/kWh).
    • They spend $60/month less on gasoline.
    • They don't need to pay the usual $250/month for electricity.
    • With savings of $3600/year, they can send their two daughters to after school and summer camp.  
    • Their excess electricity fed to the grid deliver cheaper electricity to their neighbors.
  • But "going solar" was more than a financial decision, it was a spiritual one for his family (Luyanda, Russell, Mgazi and Zaffron).
    • PV rooftops are challenging the power structure in this state.
    • This is about ordinary people taking a stand and taking a risk.
    • Benefits of sustainability, self-sufficiency and reaping the bounty of nature are supremely Hawaii values.
    • We're doing good for Planet Earth--the aspiration that our children may yet be able to escape a world devastated by climate change.
  • He and his business partner thus installed another rooftop solar system on their church.
  • Solar households this year will reduce Hawaiian Electric Company's (HECO) oil bill by more than $100 million.
Russell spent some time finding fault with the attitude and policies of HECO.  Here is HECO's point of view on this matter:  solar PV owners should pay more for being able to use the grid.  He urged readers to call or write your legislators to support House Bill 1943 requiring HECO to rapidly modernize its grid so more people can install rooftop solar.

You can contact him at:

201 Merchant St, Suite 1805
Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone: 808.695.4620
Toll-free: 1.866.448.0725
E-Fax: 808.441.3100


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