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mauiThough you often see rain and gray clouds hugging the mountain peaks that tower over Iao Valley, Hawaii Nature Center’s program facility there will soon get solar power (while solar cells do work on overcast days, they’re not as efficient as on sunny days, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association). Hawaii Pacific Solar is installing the photovoltaic system at a discounted rate, and the center is paying for the installation through a $40,000 grant from theJonathan Merage Foundation, stated an Apr. 13 news release from the Hawaii Nature Center.

“This grant has a two-fold purpose: to spread awareness of the benefits of solar power and to build the capacity of the Hawaii Nature Center,” said Chad Robertson, program coordinator, the Jonathan Merage Foundation, in the news release. The Jonathan Merage Foundation helps advance education, science and the study of severe weather.

Since 1981, the Hawaii Nature Center has provided a variety of environmental education programs to more than 15,000 elementary and middle school children from both public and private institutions every year. Their goal, according to the organization’s website (Hawaiinaturecenter.org), is “to encourage environmental stewardship through hands-on investigative field study and experiences.”

The Nature Center’s Iao Valley operation also offers a variety of other programs for the greater community as a whole.

“The Hawaii Nature Center in `Iao Valley on Maui offers a large variety of custom programs for all kinds of groups including school groups, church groups, employee retreats, and various clubs,” states the organization’s website. “In the past we have hosted groups as diverse as Kamehameha Schools staff, Punahou school students, Habitat for Humanity volunteers, canoe clubs, boy scouts, and mainland volunteer groups.”

The Iao Valley center’s new solar system consists of 255-watt panels and micro-inverters and will generate 9.69 kW. According the Hawaii Nature Center, this translates into the equivalent saving of 1,074 gallons of gas, offsetting 21,114 pounds of CO2 and diverting 7,116 pounds of municipal waste from the landfill.

“We are very grateful to the Jonathan Merage Foundation for this grant,” said Hawaii Pacific Solar CEO Bob Johnston in the news release. “The PV panels will provide almost 100 percent of the power used by the facilities at Iao Valley, helping the Hawaii Nature Center reduce costs so it can deploy those cash assets elsewhere.”

Original Post http://mauitime.com/news/science-and-environment/hawaii-nature-centers-iao-valley-facility-goes-solar/  (written by: ANTHONY PIGNATARO, April 22, 2016).