The 56 local participants in the Blue Planet Foundation’s Hui Up Program have been picking up new Energy Star refrigerators today and yesterday at the Kaunakakai Ballfield in an effort that will save them more than $31,000 a year on electricity.
The local nonprofit Sust’ainable Molokai has coordinated the program on Molokai by collecting community surveys and organizing the pick-up schedule. In cooperation with Alu Like’s Hoala Hou program for at-risk youth, volunteers on this project went into homes with Belkin meters and conducted energy audits to measure the energy use of current refrigerators. Homeowners received a report and informational brochures from the youth to help them order a new refrigerator through this program.
Over the past two weeks, the youngsters have conducted 45 home energy audits on Molokai. “This is good for the island because it reduces our carbon footprint,” said Ke’au Chow, one of the youth volunteers.
“It’s really expensive for everything here because we’re so isolated,” Leilani Chow, one of the student leaders, adds. “And the environment is really important to us because we’re on a small island, and this is all the space we get, so we have to do as much as we can to take care of it.
Molokai residents had the choice of purchasing an 18.3 cubic-foot refrigerator for $250 or a 25.2 cubic-foot refrigerator for $750, a tremendous discount off retail prices for appliances that they would have otherwise had to purchase and ship from off-island. The group buy is a continuation of the community-driven energy efficiency initiative that Blue Planet launched in 2010, during which island residents successfully replaced 36,000 incandescent bulbs with CFLs. According to Blue Planet, the campaign saves the community $6.5 million over the bulbs’ lifetimes.
According to Blue Planet, the 56 refrigerators that arrived in the inaugural shipment will save these households an average of $550 a year, more than $31,000 collectively. Over the next 10 years, these families will save more than $310,000 in energy costs, displacing 1,560 barrels of oil and 700 tons of greenhouse gas pollution.
One of those who received a new refrigerator yesterday was Sherry Sasada. Her audit told her she will be able to save 50 percent, or $150 off her $300 monthly electricity bill, with the new refrigerator.
Emillia Noordhoek, Sust‘ainable Molokai’s Executive director, talked about the other advantages of this program.
“We are helping to create the green jobs of the future,” she said. “We can set up Molokai as a model of sustainability for a new green economy. We pay the highest rates of electricity in the country and I don’t see it going down.”
Sust‘ainable Molokai has also conducted a three-week program for permaculture with middle school and high school students. “We are creating a sustainable agriculture program using permaculture techniques in helping them to become sustainable, maybe start a nursery, but also to really coalesce that career path choice,” said Noordhoek.
“We are also working with Blue Planet and the high school to have a sustainable youth conference in May,” she added. “Hopefully kids will be able to showcase the permaculture, the energy piece and a green jobs fair. Kids from all over Hawaii will be coming to present information on working with energy, curriculum, sustainable agriculture and maybe extend to other islands in South Pacific.”