Hawaiʻi Nature Center in ʻĪao Valley to go Solar

April 13, 2016, 3:03 PM HST · Updated April 13, 3:03 PM
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The Hawaiʻi Nature Center in ʻĪao Valley at Kepaniwai Park. File photo credit: Wendy Osher.

The Hawaiʻi Nature Center in ʻĪao Valley at Kepaniwai Park. File photo credit: Wendy Osher.

Hawaii Nature Center’s program facility at ʻĪao Valley on Maui, will soon have solar power thanks to a $40,000 grant from the Jonathan Merage Foundation and discounted photovoltaic installation by Maui-based Hawaiʻi Pacific Solar.

“This grant has a two-fold purpose: to spread awareness of the benefits of solar power and to build the capacity of the Hawaiʻi Nature Center,” said Chad Robertson, program coordinator, the Jonathan Merage Foundation.

The Jonathan Merage Foundation focuses on advancing the study of, education, and activities surrounding science and severe weather. The foundation seeks to invest in innovative and pioneering approaches to further our understanding of the world around us.

4th grade students from Puʻu Kukui Elementary returning from their forest explorations in ʻĪao with the Hawaiʻi Nature Center. Photo credit: Anthony Zerga, Pro Camera Hawaiʻi.

4th grade students from Puʻu Kukui Elementary returning from their forest explorations in ʻĪao with the Hawaiʻi Nature Center. Photo credit: Anthony Zerga, Pro Camera Hawaiʻi.

“We are very grateful to the Jonathan Merage Foundation for this grant,” said Hawaiʻi Pacific Solar CEO, Bob Johnston, who is a HNC board member. “The PV panels will provide almost 100% of the power used by the facilities at ʻĪao Valley, helping the Hawaiʻi Nature Center reduce costs so it can deploy those cash assets elsewhere.”

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The system size is 9.69 kW consisting of 255-watt panels and micro inverters. Organization representatives say the environmental benefits are equivalent to saving 1,074 gallons of gas, 21,114 pounds of CO2 offset and 7,116 pounds of municipal waste to the landfill.

“We are giving heartfelt thanks to the Jonathan Merage Foundation and to Bob Johnston of Hawaiʻi Pacific Solar who procured this grant for us. The PV installation is a positive stride in our agency’s environmentally friendly practices and for our budget. It will also be a great learning tool for the school children who attend programs at ʻĪao Valley,” said Jeeyun Lee, MSW, HNC executive director.

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