Solar panels atop Samuel Enoka Kalama Intermediate School, Makawao, Hawaii, mark the seventh school in the Maui District to take part in the Sun Power for Schools program, supported by Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO), Honolulu, Maui Electric Co. (MECO), Honolulu, and the state’s Department of Education, Honolulu. The program helps to install photovoltaic (PV) systems in the schools to reduce energy consumption while promoting renewable energy education. Maui High School, Kahului, Hiawaii, and Molokai Intermediate School, Hoolehua, Hawaii, will have panels installed in the next few months.

The seven solar panels at Kalama Intermediate measure 3.5 feet by 5.5 feet and can generate 208W. The system includes air temperature sensors and a data acquisition system. Under the Sun Power for Schools program, MECO will operate and maintain the systems for two years.

MECO officials said the system at Kalama has already saved the school around $260 in about three months. Last February, the school’s electrical bill came in at $21,146.25. "It's a small bump for the school's electric bill, but it's also for educational purposes," says Cheryl Correa, MECO project manager for the Sun Power for Schools program.

Schools participating in the Sun Power program are provided with an educational DVD with suggested lessons that include researching the PV cells as well as studies on which renewable energy systems are the most cost-effective.