Sunetric, a local solar design and installation company, is installing a 200-kilowatt photovoltaic system to energize Kukui Plaza's two 32-story towers in the heart of Downtown Honolulu. Once completed, Kukui Plaza's photovoltaic system will be perched at a higher point than any other in the state relative to ground level.
With about 6,000 people living, working or passing through the complex every day, maintenance fees for owners at Kukui Plaza continued to rise with a large portion of it attributed to utilities. The property’s management proposed going solar to the Association of Owners' Board of Directors, who agreed with the change.
Sunetric began installation of the system on Aug. 12. The system is expected to produce 397,545 kWh a year, offsetting about 32.2 percent of electricity in the complex’s common areas, which include walkways, elevators, a 2.6 acre park, and a 1,811-stall parking garage.
The installation was a bit trickier than your average project, and required 47 helicopter lifts to move the panels and other materials from a nearby parking lot up to the roof, about 280 feet off the ground. YouTube video courtesy of Sunetric.
"We needed to find a way to offset those rising utility costs, and Sunetric provided an avenue for us,” said Henry Urquhart, Kukui Plaza operations manager. “Since 1981 Kukui Plaza has been a self-managed property, and it only makes sense for us to be self-sustaining too.”
Each year, Kukui Plaza will be looking at $22,870 in savings due to the solar Power Purchase Agreement. After 20 years, Kukui Plaza will retain 100 percent of the savings from energy generated from then on.
"When it comes to installations, we love a good challenge, and we couldn’t wait to start on Kukui Plaza's system," said Alex Tiller, Sunetric's chief executive officer. "What’s really significant about this project isn’t so much the height of the project though. It’s the complex’s decision to opt for a more sustainable, livable future. Honolulu is one of the densest cities in the U.S., and we can only hope more condominium projects in the city will join Kukui Plaza’s smart planning. Sunetric stands ready to rise to that challenge as well."