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AAAAA Rent-A-Space launches massive PV system

By Staff | Sep 22, 2011

It took Haleakala Solar employees three months to install the commercial photovoltaic power generation system at the AAAAA Rent-A-Space commercial center in Honokowai.

HONOKOWAI — AAAAA Rent-A-Space last week Thursday held a ceremony to mark the beginning of operations for the largest commercial photovoltaic power generation system in Maui County.

In addition to powering the Honokowai storage facility and commercial center, the 600-kilowatt system will contribute to the state’s “feed-in tariff” program with the capacity to feed 2,880 kilowatt-hours into the island’s electrical grid each day.

The solar panels will generate enough clean, renewable energy to power up to 220 Maui homes — the equivalent of burning more than 1,451 barrels (60,934 gallons) of oil at a traditional fossil fuel-burning facility in a year.

This new system also includes a “Level 2” electric vehicle charging station that should be operational before the end of the year.

AAAAA Rent-A-Space founder Dr. H. James Knuppe participated in the blessing led by West Maui Pastors Laki Ka’ahumanu and Chris Martin and traditional untying of Hawaiian maile lei at the entry to the system’s control room.

AAAAA Rent-A-Space owner Dr. H. James Knuppe founded the self storage industry.

“Responsible, sustainable stewardship of the land has long been a core value of our islands,” said Knuppe. “Hawaii is precious, its people special. If AAAAA Rent-A-Space is able to walk a path that nurtures our island home, how can we progress otherwise?

“This solar project provides clean, quantifiable benefits to our center’s merchants, our community and the entire Aloha State.

Seeing no “mini warehouses” around, Knuppe in 1970 founded the self storage industry and built his first facility in Alameda, California.

Built by Knuppe in 1987 on nearly three acres at 3600 Lower Honoapiilani Road, AAAAA Rent-A-Space was the first storage facility in Hawaii.

Knuppe’s pioneering spirit continues with this massive photovoltaic project installed in three months by Maui-based Haleakala Solar.

In all, 1,938 American-made solar panels were installed on the roof of the complex. Knuppe said state renewable energy incentives made the $3.5 million project possible.

Haleakala Solar owner Jim Whitcomb said he hopes the state will continue the incentives. He added that Hawaii should be the “poster child” for solar energy.

Hawaii enjoys the most sunshine, but residents pay the highest electricity rates in the country, Whitcomb said.

News of AAAAA’s commercial photovoltaic power system is spreading around the world, Whitcomb said, and he has been contacted by groups scouting locations for future sites.

West and South Maui Sen. Roz Baker said she and Rep. Angus McKelvey (who was present) serve on committees in the Hawaii Legislature that are committed to promoting renewable energy.

She said she is delighted to have such responsible businesses in the community and pleased to see the innovation of AAAAA’s new project.

She thanked the company for “being people of vision” and helping to lessen Maui’s dependency on fossil fuels.

In a message read by Whitcomb at the blessing, Gov. Neil Abercrombie noted, “AAAAA Rent-A-Space’s new solar system is part of Hawaii’s conscious efforts to reduce our carbon footprints and dependency on foreign oil. This 600-kilowatt photovoltaic system will prevent 1.7 million pounds of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere — the equivalent of planting 29,350 trees or taking 243 automobiles off the roads — and has the potential to result in an annual savings in electrical costs that exceed $84,000.” (Whitcomb later raised the sum to $284,000.)

Abercrombie said the project supports Hawaii’s Clean Energy Initiative, which aims to have 70 percent of the state’s energy for electricity and ground transportation come from clean energy by 2030.