Maui News

County Solar Project to Cut Energy Costs

August 18, 2011, 1:54 PM HST
* Updated August 23, 11:59 AM
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Photo by Bill Valente - From left: Doug McLeod, Maui County Energy Commissioner, Jim Whitcomb, Owner of Haleakala Solar

By Madeline M. Ziecker

Maui County has partnered with Gen-X Energy Development to implement solar energy in 25 county government buildings.

Haleakala Solar has agreed to install solar panels on 25 county buildings, including fire stations, wastewater treatment centers, and senior centers. The county will be purchasing energy per watt from Gen-X Energy Development, but Haleakala Solar will handle installation and maintenance at their cost.

Maui County Energy Commissioner Doug McLeod said that exact figures still had to be established but that the cost would be $4-5 per watt. Energy Development Partner Leo Caires says that equates to 14.7 cents per watt.

This year, Maui County put out an RFP (request for proposal) for a solar company that could not only help them initiate their shift to photovoltaic energy (energy from the sun), but also offer the best quality solar technology.


After considering several solar energy businesses for their prospects, the county chose Gen-X Energy Development  to lead the most extensive solar panel project in Maui County history.


Leo Caires, who works as a partner with Gen-x Energy Development  and has recently hired Haleakala Solar, predicts that the county’s decision to purchase solar energy will result not only in reduced emissions, but also a dramatic cut in previous energy costs.

“Gen-X Energy Development is a Haiku based company. We have partnered with BOSCH Solar and Nex Gen Energy Partners for our supply and financing side.We have chosen Haleakala Solar to be the General Contractor to install the systems. The county will just simply purchase the power that we generate at a significantly lower cost. Its a win win situation for the county.”

Currently, the county’s electricity is bought and distributed through a power grid. Every time the grid’s capacity is reached and the flow of energy exceeds it, additional costs flare up. Caires says investment in solar energy will save money that can be used for needed improvements in other areas of government.

Photo by Bill Valente - From left: Managing Partner for Gen-X Energy Development Leo Caires with Doug McLeod, Maui County Energy Commissioner, and Jim Whitcomb, Owner of Haleakala Solar

Owner of Haleakala Solar Jim Whitcomb says that the project will create at least 25 jobs for members of the Maui community in management and installation.


Marc Mathews, Quality Control Manager at Haleakala Solar, described how energy is processed through solar panels.

“Each solar panel is made from crystal. The sun excites the protons in the crystal and, in a process that is quite magical, electricity is created.”

The electricity harnessed through solar panels can run entire facilities, let alone individual properties and appliances.

Located in Kahului at the Maui Mall, Haleakala Solar has been in business on Maui for 34 years and has installed over 8,000 systems.

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