A second major solar energy company is now revving up its operations to harness the sun's power in the Aloha State, where homeowners and businesses pay some of the highest electricity bills in the country. .
San Mateo, Calif.-firm SolarCity has opened a 19,500 sq.-ft. warehouse in Mililani, O`ahu, and hired 35 local residents; it expects to hire 55 to 65 more workers this year. The company installs photovoltaic (PV) systems at no cost to customers, then charges for the use of its systems at a long-term fixed rate. Specifically, it offers homeowners, businesses and non-profit organizations a single source for solar power design and engineering, financing, installation, insurance, monitoring and repair services.
Initially SolarCity will serve residential customers on O`ahu, and business and non-profit customers on O`ahu, Maui, Hawaii Island, Kaua`i and Lana'i.
"Hawaii is one of the best places in the world for solar. Homeowners pay some of the highest electricity rates in the country and with the abundance of sun throughout the year, solar makes both financial and environmental sense for local residents," said Peter Cooper, SolarCity's regional director in Hawaii. "SolarCity is making it simple for O`ahu homeowners to switch to clean power for less than they pay for electricity from the power company."
Last year San Francisco-based SunRun, doing business in eight states, came to Hawaii. Its business model is the same as SolarCity's model (free installation). Prior to SunRun's entry in 2010, "so-called solar power purchase agreements had been available in Hawaii only on a commercial scale," noted an article in the Honolulu Star Advertiser.
Both these newly arrived companies stand out in the state's solar sector as they're nationally known brands in the photovoltaic industry.
In the last two years the Hawaii Legislature has tried but failed to create a government-sponsored program for financing PV?systems for residential customers. The newspaper noted that one version of the state initiative would have allowed homeowners to acquire loans tied to state bonds to pay for PV?systems, and pay back the loans through assessments on property tax bills.