Reader Asks About Electric Costs on Maui

Aloha!

A reader wrote to ask:

My husband and I just returned from our visit to Maui. We have been tossing the idea about of just moving there. We live in Northern CA where it reaches above the 100 mark. It was warmer this visit, but not unbearable….we had left where it was up to 102+. Although there are some costs that are not real out of the ordinary, the electric is three times what we pay here. My question to you is…..if you have the solar or photo-voltaric (sp?) what would the average cost be for an average 1200 sq ft home in upcountry or kihei? Thank you 🙂

Answer: If you follow this blog, you know that we had a photovoltaic system put on our roof at the end of last year. On the news yesterday they said we have had over 90° heat for 15 out of the last 17 days in Hawaii. And for the first time in many years, I feel like I can run the air conditioning. (Thank goodness, because otherwise I would be Miss Crankypants that no one would want to live with.) Before the photovoltaic, our electric bills were running almost $400 per month, and that puts a dent in anyone’s budget. (We just didn’t run the air conditioner.) Add to that the high cost of food, the high cost of gasoline, and the high cost of housing, and living in Maui can become a luxury that many people decide they can’t afford.
As far as the cost for the system, loans are available. They charge by the panel, based on your electrical useage. Our home needed 19 panels, at $1,000. per panel. Our friends, who have two small houses on their property plus an art studio, paid $36,000 for their photovoltaic system.

image

But here’s the caveat: even with the state and federal tax breaks, it takes 3 to 5 years to break even. So our bill has dropped to between $18 and $30 per month, and our friend’s base rate is $36 per month. This is supposed to be the rate to “tie-in” to the system.
BUT, and this is a large but: Hawaiian Electric Company on Oahu has seen their intake drop dramatically due to homeowners putting in these systems. They are now asking for a rate hike to a minimum of $50 per household, even for those with a photovoltaic system. So essentially, private homeowners are funding their own electricity, and now the electric companies want a piece of that.

How long can it be before Maui Electric company follows suit?

Also, you are fortunate if our electric rate (killowatt per hour) is only three times higher than what you pay. Where I came from, Maui was five times higher. Living in Kihei is hotter than Upcountry. But the higher you go up Haleakala mountain, the colder it gets…

Haleakala Mountain, note the VOG!

Haleakala Mountain, note the VOG!


and then you end up figuring out how to HEAT it. There is no natural gas on Maui.

For those planning to move to Maui and rent, ask about the electricity costs, if it is not included in the rent, because you are definitely going to want to budget for it. I make it a practice to ask to see the electricity bills when I buy a house, too.

Thanks for the question, and thank you for reading along!

A hui hou. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage, or to the right.

Aloha, Jamaica

The Sustainability Issue

Aloha!

We are dealing with frustrating renewable energy/sustainability issues here at our house. In trying to reduce our carbon footprint and help save the planet, we plunked down a very large sum for photovoltaic panels on our roof (much of which eventually comes back as tax credits) and in true Hawaiian style, we now have panels on the roof, BUT no electricity to them. (Panels are below the tree branches in photo.)

image

And along with the panels, we got all these new boxes on our house, for MECO (Maui Electric Company) to keep track of how much energy we are generating:

image

First, MECO lost our application. After weeks of that and about 27 emails, the company finally installed our panels. (We used Cliff Ryden at Blue Pacific Energy and were impressed with his services.) So now the sun is shining and we are good to go, except the County of Maui won’t issue the permit, because they are so back-logged! Any idea how frustrating it is to have the capability to save almost $400 on our electric bill, and nothing is happening?? Aaaarrrghh!!!

On the subject of sustainability, a new magazine is coming to Maui in December, called “Living Aloha”, which will also be distributed throughout the United States, including Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, L.A. and New York City. If you live in these places, you can watch for it.

The magazine aims to serve residents and visitors alike, who are looking to promote health, community, culture and sustainabilty. It will provide information on healthy living and green products, offering a broad range of solutions to help reduce our carbon footprint. It will cover yoga and teacher training retreats, massage and massage schools, Reiki, Pilates, tai chi, chi gong, acupuncture, local/organic food, renewable energy, and activism.

To see a sample issue/media kit, go here: http://livingaloha.net/img/demo-2.pdf

This past week I interviewed Maui resident Mark Sheehan for my current screenplay. Mark is a member of “Maui Tomorrow”, and was highly instrumental in saving Big Beach (in Makena) from development. If you have been to, and enjoyed Big Beach (part of which is a nude beach) you can thank Mark for its very existence.

So imagine my surprise when I opened the link to “Living Aloha” magazine, and there was an article by Mark Sheehan. Every day you live here, you realize…

It’s a small island…

A hui hou! Mahalo for stopping by. If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica