Going Solar Helps Maui Food Bank Feed Thousands

I highly recommend going solar with SunPower and HNU Energy. They did what they said they were going to do, and they did it with safety in mind and with concern for the organization’s daily operations during the construction.”

– Rich Yust, Executive Director, Maui Food Bank

Located in the sunny islands of Hawaii, the Maui Food Bank was facing rising energy costs— in a state that already boasted the highest 2011 utility rates in the U.S. For many years, thousands of people have relied on the non-profit’s assistance. Then, in the wake of the 2008 recession, the food bank experienced a 30% increase in demand. These burdens made finding a sustainable financial solution mission critical. To meet this challenge, the Maui Food Bank turned to solar power. With a reputation for high-quality work, HNU Energy was selected to install a solar system designed to meet 100% of the food bank’s electrical demand. The Maui Food Bank chose SunPower because SunPower’s high-efficiency solar products could generate the required energy in the existing limited space. The ensuing teamwork of SunPower, HNU Energy, and other local companies enabled completion of the on-time and on-budget 103 kW solar system in October 2011. Thanks to their SunPower system, the Maui Food Bank can reallocate over $50,000 in annual utility savings and put that money back where it belongs—feeding the hungry in their community.

Food Bank Goes Solar to Control Costs

The 2008 recession placed more demands on the Maui Food Bank as more people needed assistance to help feed their families. Already high utility rates continued to rise, making it critical for the food bank to take control of its overhead costs. “With a 30% increase in the need for food since the 2008 recession, we turned to solar PV as a means to significantly reduce our operating costs,” said Maui Food Bank’s Executive Director, Rich Yust. To do so, the food bank secured a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from Maui County and sought a solar solution that could give them the best long-term financial relief.

SunPower and HNU Energy Lead the Way

As a local leader in solar installations, HNU Energy was engaged to help the food bank get the best long-term solar solution. Both HNU Energy and the consulting engineer recommended SunPower to the Maui Food Bank. As a leader in solar technology, SunPower’s high-efficiency solutions offered the desired energy output within the limited available rooftop space. The Maui Food Bank chose the SunPower® T5 Solar Roof Tile because of its high energy production, small footprint, and self-ballasting design. Because the T5 solution required less area, the design provided ample clearance for walkways, allowing for easy maintenance. The self-ballasting design minimized roof penetrations, helping to protect the recently renovated roof.

Solar Savings Help Feed Those in Need

Expert coordination between SunPower, HNU Energy, and other companies kept the project on schedule with minimal disruption to the food bank’s operations. Now, a 103 kW solar system is powering as much as 100% of the Maui Food Bank’s electrical needs, and the cost savings are sizable. “Reducing our electric bill by $50,000 annually helps us provide more food to those most in need in Maui County,” said Yust. The system has turned the sun into one of the food bank’s greatest assets while enabling the Maui Food Bank to focus its precious financial resources on the needs of its community for many years to come.

Project Overview

Location:    Maui, HI
Completed:    October 2011
Installation Type:    Roof
System Size:    103kW
PV Surface Area:    7,200 sq ft
Number of Panel:    336
Products:    SunPower® T5 Solar Roof Tile

  • Projected to save the food bank in excess of $1.5 million over the life of the system
  • Reduces the non-profit’s annual electric bill by $50,000
  • Frees money to help feed over 10,000 people each month
  • Offsets 5,175 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over 25 years