Announced last week, Patagonia has formed a partnership with Honolulu-based Kinaole Capital Partners and Bank of Hawaii to create a $27 million fund aimed at helping homeowners purchase more than 1,000 rooftop solar energy systems in Hawaii. Working with local solar installation companies and taking advantage of state and federal tax credits, the new fund will accelerate renewable energy infrastructure in the state.
The $13 investment from Patagonia comes from the company’s $20 Million & Change investment fund launched in 2013 to help innovative, like-minded startups bring about solutions to the environmental crisis and other positive change through business.
The people of Hawaii pay three times the U.S. average for electricity (38.42 cents per kilowatt-hour compared to 8.96 in Washington or even 17.67 in California) . The cost of electricity in Hawaii is higher than on the U.S. mainland due to the cost of imported oil used to power the generators. Their isolated geographic location also means no nearby utility companies from which to draw power in the event of a problem.
Depending on the island, Hawaii sees anywhere from 168 to 270 days of sunshine each year. Combine that with the high electricity prices, and the state is a no brainer place to start for residential solar projects. Local residents will have to pay no upfront costs for installation (they will be leased the equipment by the fund) and are projected to save 35% on their energy bills after the solar installation. Additionally, at a given point in the lease, the customers are free to purchase the solar power system at a fraction of its original cost.
The solar energy systems purchased by the fund will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 153k tons of CO2–equivalent to taking 29 thousand cars off the road. Installation will provide hundreds of jobs, including employees of Patagonia surf Ambassador Kohl Christensen’s Oahu based solar installation company.
I hope to see this project replicated in other states.