The outdoor gear and apparel company Patagonia will spend thirteen million dollars to help 1,000 homes in Hawaii get solar panels. Hawaii imports a great deal of oil to burn to generate electricity and electricity costs are very high.
The solar panels aren’t only coming from Patagonia. Kina’ole Capital Partners and a Hawaiian bank are partnering to create a $27 million dollar fund for the whole project.
Homeowners that participate in the project will have no upfront costs and pay about 40% less on their electricity bills once the solar systems have been installed. An estimated 153,000 tons of CO2 will be displaced by them. Once the fund has taken in as much as it paid out to construct all the solar power systems, it will begin to make a profit.
Patagonia is no stranger to supporting the environment. In 1985, the company committed to providing 10% of its pre-tax profits to environmental groups. A company-related blog wrote this, “If more businesses followed this investment strategy, we’d have a full-on renewable energy movement on our hands. Conventional wisdom too often assumes business success is incompatible with helping the planet.”
So, it truly is not only about the home solar systems in Hawaii, it is intended to be a model other business people can learn from. They too can replicate the project. We often hear about solar power from the perspective of technology, but these creative financing projects are just as important to the goal of getting more solar power operational.
Solar investment makes a lot of sense for the environment, but over time consumers can save money too. Some solar projects also have had a good rate of return for investors.
According to Kina’ole Capital Partners, less than ten percent of condos and apartments in Hawaii have gone solar, so it seems there is ample opportunity for the two-year-old startup. Hawaii also has abundant sunshine, so solar power is a slam dunk there.