The island of Maui, also known as the “Valley Isle,” is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands at 727.2 square miles and is the third most populous island in the state with a population of 117,644. Residents of Maui also pay about $0.28/kWh to Maui Electric Company (MECO), more than Oahu’s $0.25/kWh, mostly due to Hawaii’s substantial dependence on imported fossil fuels to produce their electricity.
The Hawaii government has addressed this in material way by creating legislative mandates for renewable energy and creating financial incentives to promote the adoption of Hawaii solar power. To begin, under the Hawaii Global Warming Solutions Act, Hawaii aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and the state has set a goal of meeting 70% of Hawaii’s energy needs through clean energy sources by 2030. Accordingly, residents who install a solar water heating system can receive a one-time, $1,000 rebate from MECO. For residents that want to install a full solar power system, Hawaii offers a state tax credit equal to 35% of project costs or $5,000 (whichever is less) for single family residences and a tax credit of 35% of project costs or $3,500 per unit (whichever is less) for multifamily residences. Hawaii also offers a feed-in-tariff which is essentially where your utility company has to pay you cash for the amount of energy your system produces above the amount you consume. MECO is currently paying $0.218/kWh produced from solar panel systems that are less than or equal to 20 kW.
Maui County’s Solar Roofs Initiative Program also provides for interest free loans for those who want to install a solar water heater. In a joint effort between Maui County and Maui Electric Company, loan recipients are also eligible for a $1,000 discount. Payments are based on expected energy savings. A typical family of four can save about $50 a month, depending on hot water use.
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