The Triple Bottom Line
Wednesday - June 10, 2009
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By Joseph Saturnia
President of Island Pacific Energy
Almost every day my kids come home from school with a new lesson to share on how to help protect the environment. I’m delighted to see that renewability and sustainability have become values that our keiki and the rest of our community are adopting into their lives. After all, sustainability is fundamentally about the legacy we leave to the next generation.
The question is: How can one “be green” in a manner that is both socially and financially responsible?
At Island Pacific Energy, our goal is to make photo-voltaic solar energy systems more affordable to the people of Hawaii. As part of our company mission, we practice a “Triple Bottom Line” approach to business. Triple Bottom Line means operating a sustainable company that works toward: 1) Providing value to our customers while earning a fair profit for our services 2) Improving the lives of our employees, customers and surrounding society 3) Protecting the environment
Only by making solar power affordable can we achieve broad adoption of renewable energy, reduce Hawaii’s carbon-based energy demand and contribute to our state’s goals of energy independence.
Though there will be the early adopters that install renewable energy systems without regard to cost, for the average consumer, these systems must be financially justified. Making the finances pencil out is often the most challenging part of our business.
Take, for example, Punahou School, an institution that is widely recognized for its strong commitment to renewability and sustainability. Last September, Island Pacific Energy was able to assist the school in furthering its renewability goals by installing a 460kW photo-voltaic solar power system across seven buildings on the campus. The system currently generates enough energy to power more than 150 homes.
With numerous rooftops and high energy consumption, Punahou was an excellent candidate for photo-voltaic solar power. However, as a nontaxpaying entity, it was not able to utilize the typical tax credit incentives that assist in making renewable energy systems affordable. In short, Punahou had the desire for a photovoltaic solar energy system, but lacked the ability to use the incentives necessary for the project to make financial sense.
To help Punahou, Island Pacific Energy structured a unique financial arrangement, the first of its kind in Hawaii, enabling the school to reach its renewability goals in a financially sound way.
Simply put, Island Pacific Energy owns and operates the photovoltaic solar energy facility installed at the school. Punahou purchases the clean, renewable energy generated at an attractive rate. The school does not pay for the system, but it still receives the desired benefits: reducing its carbon footprint through the use of clean, renewable power.
In relating this back to our company’s Triple Bottom Line goals, Island Pacific Energy makes a fair profit while helping Punahou further its sustainability goals in a fiscally responsible manner. The local economy also benefits by utilizing renewable resources in Hawaii instead of those provided by Mainland oil companies.
In January 2009, as a result of our socially responsible approach to business, Island Pacific Energy received the Governor’s Award for Innovation, which recognizes deserving companies that are developing innovative products, services and ways of doing business.
This award demonstrates that we can achieve our common goal of a more self-reliant, sustainable Hawaii in a manner that is both fiscally and socially responsible. Our ability to achieve our goal will determine the legacy we will leave the next generation, making it all the more important.
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