- Associated Press - Monday, March 31, 2014

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - Hawaiian Telcom is seeking to lease rooftop solar panels to generate its own power at 78 buildings around the state.

According to a filing with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, the company will sign a 25-year lease with two contractors on Oahu, TSWG Solar and Sunetric. Those contractors will install and maintain photovoltaic solar energy systems on Hawaiian Telcom buildings on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.

“After considering the estimated cost of PV panels alone, purchasing and owning the PV systems (even with the tax credits) was deemed to be less favorable than entering in the Lease Arrangements,” the filing says.

Hawaiian Telcom will buy 100 percent of the energy that the systems generate, with built-in annual rate increases, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Monday (http://bit.ly/1gIjAKO ). Assuming all of the 24 sites slated for the Big Island are running, the total energy generated could be between 1 and 1.3 megawatts, said Hawaiian Telcom spokeswoman Ann Nishida Fry.

She told the paper that the company expects an immediate financial return on the arrangement, with the biggest savings outside of Oahu. The company expects to enter into net metering agreements with Hawaii Electric Light Co. to sell any excess energy back to the Big Island utility.

The first phase of the installation, which includes 11 sites on Oahu, is tentatively planned to begin June 30. The second phase aims for 33 sites around the neighbor islands. Any installations beyond that, according to the filing, will depend on energy saturation, conditions and circuits at the specific sites, and continued tax credits to the contractor.

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Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/