Investment will make clean, affordable solar power available to more Hawaii residents, who currently pay 3X average U.S. price for power from coal and oil

by Adam Fetcher

Patagonia today announced a $13 million tax equity investment in solar power for Hawai‘i – joining with local solar finance company Kina‘ole Capital Partners, LLC to create a new fund that will purchase more than 1,000 rooftop solar energy systems in Hawai‘i, where homeowners currently pay three times the U.S. average price for electricity.

The fund, totaling $27 million, will utilize state and federal tax credits to direct Patagonia’s tax dollars for purchases of solar energy systems. Kina‘ole will make the fund available to all qualified solar installation companies in Hawai‘i.

Patagonia and its partners are also actively encouraging other companies to follow the same investment strategy – doing good business by helping the planet. To that end, they’ve provided a roadmap for organizations interested in leveraging their tax dollars with the potential to build out an unprecedented network of renewable energy.

An infographic describing the investment – designed by California artist Eric Junker – was released today as part of a blog post outlining the investment strategy and its financial and environmental benefits on The Cleanest Line.

Patagonia’s investment comes through its $20 Million & Change fund, launched in 2013 to help innovative, like-minded startup companies bring about solutions to the environmental crisis and other positive change through business. Or, in the words of Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, to help entrepreneurs and innovators succeed in “working with nature rather than using it up.”

“This is smart business for Patagonia and good news for homeowners in Hawai‘i, who pay way too much for dirty electricity,” said Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario. “I hope other companies see how this strategy can bring strong returns and think seriously about doing the same thing. Business is in a unique position to accelerate the creation of renewable energy infrastructure.

Renewable energy currently accounts for just 10 percent of Hawai‘i’s overall consumption. Over the life of the solar energy systems purchased by the fund, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 153,000 tons of CO2 – equivalent to 323,000 barrels of oil, 75,000 tons of coal or taking 29,000 passenger vehicles off the road. Installation will provide jobs for hundreds of people in Hawai‘i’s solar industry, including employees of Patagonia surf ambassador Kohl Christensen’s solar installation company, based on Oahu.

“We are both extremely excited to have Patagonia become our partner in this venture as its leadership in the area of environmental responsibility aligns perfectly with our business model of displacing expensive, dirty electricity,” echoed Kina‘ole founders Blair Herbert and Andrew Yani. “Patagonia’s team has been amazing to work with and quickly saw this as a perfect investment opportunity to offer affordable, renewable energy to the people of Hawai‘i.”

Kina‘ole Capital Partners is a financial services company that offers customers the option of enjoying a solar energy system at no upfront cost. Customers simply agree to purchase electricity generated by the solar system at a fixed rate that is less than the local utility’s rate. This lower electricity cost provides immediate savings to the customer and serves to reduce the amount of electricity that is purchased from the utility grid.

Since 1990, Patagonia has given 80 grants totaling nearly $200,000 to 57 different non-profit grassroots environmental groups in Hawai‘i – supporting projects ranging from building native seed banks and promoting community gardens to protecting marine ecosystems and the biodiversity they host.

More information about Kina‘ole is available at Additional $20 Million & Change investments will be announced as they are made. For more information about the fund, click here.