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DOE and HECO Partner on Home Energy Challenge for Students

25 schools will have a chance to share thousands of dollars in prizes and hundreds of families will benefit from reduced electric bills at home



February 28, 2007

Peter Rosegg
Phone:  (808) 543-7780

HONOLULU – Hawaii Schools Superintendent Pat Hamamoto and Hawaiian Electric Company Senior Vice President Robbie Alm today announced a DOE-HECO partnership to sponsor the Hawaiian Electric Home Energy Challenge.  In the contest, students and their families at 25 public elementary schools will learn how to lower home energy use and compete to see who can conserve more, with thousands of dollars in prizes going to the schools that achieve the greatest home energy conservation. 

“Along with our own DOE project to see how much electricity individual schools can save, this home energy challenge will help students learn the importance of energy conservation and take those lessons home to benefit their families and the whole community,” said Superintendent Hamamoto.

“We are grateful to Hawaiian Electric for organizing this challenge, supplying the educational materials and providing the prize money to make this an exciting and beneficial challenge,” she said. “Families will be able to use less electricity, save money on their home bills and help protect the environment all at the same time.”

Students and their families at 25 of Oahu’s 133 public elementary schools that participate have a chance to win prizes for their schools. The three schools that achieve the greatest home energy conservation will receive cash prizes of $10,000, $8,000, and $5,000.

Hawaiian Electric will provide specific energy-saving tips and offer schools diverse materials and tools focusing on the importance of energy conservation.  These include activity workbooks, videos, hands-on experiment ideas, and in-class speakers.  Small monetary grants for other conservation-themed projects will be made available through the Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation.

“HECO has had a long and effective partnership with the Department of Education and we are proud to continue that relationship with the Hawaiian Electric Home Energy Challenge,” said Robbie Alm.   

“We know that Hawaii’s energy future will depend on greater use of renewables, especially biofuels, on the utility’s side of the meter and greater awareness of energy conservation on the customers’ side.

“And we know when Hawaii’s kids say to their parents, grandparents, uncles and aunties, ‘We need save energy,’ adults will listen. Further we know that today’s elementary schools kids are tomorrow’s business and residential customers. If they learn the habits of energy awareness, conservation and efficiency as kids, they have a better chance to be responsible energy using adults.”

On hand to kick-off the program at Kapalama Elementary School in Kalihi was Jade Moon, spokesperson for HECO’s renewable energy and energy conservation efforts.  Through videos and personal appearances, Moon will help recruit schools for the Home Energy Challenge and provide valuable tips to students, teachers and parents participating.

“I am thrilled to be participating in this program,” Jade Moon said.  “If we can get the energy conservation and sustainability message to children we have the best chance for making real progress on energy conservation today and make a real difference for the future.  There is so much at stake in protecting the environment and reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels that we all need to work to make this program a success.”

All public elementary schools will receive information about the program by June 2007, and school administrators must return a letter of intent to participate by August 2007 to take part.  To participate, a public school must have a parent or staffer to act as coordinator and at least one quarter of its student body (or at least 50 students in schools under 200 students) representing individual residential HECO accounts participating.

In October 2007, the HECO Home Energy Challenge will begin by compiling the cumulative average daily home electrical usage of participating elementary school students from October 2006 through March 2007. This information is readily available on home utility bills, and will provide the baseline for the Home Energy Challenge. 

Students will then spend the next six months learning the importance of energy conservation from their teachers. HECO will provide energy literacy education and specific tips that students can apply at home to reduce electric usage. 

At the end of the six months of learning, the cumulative average for October 2007 through March 2008 will be compared to the baseline to see how much energy the students and their families conserved.