Sunetric, a Hawaii-based solar design and installation company, has shown that no contract is too tall an order, even if it’s 32 stories tall. Sunetric installed a 200-kW photovoltaic system at the top of a 32-story tower in the heart of downtown Honolulu.
With about 6,000 people living, working or passing through Kukui Plaza every day, maintenance fees for owners at the tower continued to rise, with a large portion of it attributed to utilities. Management decided to go solar, and Sunetric soon got to work.
The installation was a bit trickier than your average project, however, 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. Kukui Plaza’s PV system is perched at a higher point than any other in the state relative to ground level.
“We needed to find a way to offset those rising utility costs, and Sunetric provided an avenue for us,” says 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.”
The system is expected to produce 397,545 kWh a year, offsetting about 32.2% of electricity in the complex’s common areas, which include walkways, elevators, a 2.6-acre park, and a 1,811-stall parking garage.
Each year, Kukui Plaza will be looking at $22,870 in savings due to a Power Purchase Agreement. After 20 years, Kukui Plaza will retain 100% 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,” says Alex Tiller, Sunetric’s CEO. “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.”
Panel type: 320W SunPower
Inverter: 95 kW Solectria
Racking and Mounting: ProSolar Rooftrac
Monitoring: Tigo Energy
Annual Output: 397,545 kWh/year
Crew Size: 15
Installation Dates: Aug. 12 to Sept. 21, 2012
Founded in Hawaii in 2004 by Sean and Beth-Ann Mullen, Sunetric is one of North America’s top solar firms. Headquartered in Hawaii with branch offices in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., Sunetric is the largest renewable energy and solar installation company in the islands, with over 57 MW of solar installations statewide. As Hawaii’s first SunPower Elite dealer, Sunetric has installed several of the largest photovoltaic systems in Hawaii, including Kona Commons on the Big Island, Wilcox Memorial Hospital on Kauai, and Y. Hata on Oahu.