Extending a Ray of Light

By Sarah Pacheco Posted in: Energy

Poncho’s Solar Service and Walter’s Electric Inc. are two shining examples of companies dedicated to supporting Hawaii’s economy.

Though known for high-quality workmanship and a stellar reputation built on more than 30 years of experience, Poncho’s Solar and Walter’s Electric are perhaps most proud of their partnerships with local solar suppliers R&R Solar Supply, U.S. Distributors and Inter-Island Solar Supply, which keep business and much-needed dollars in Hawaii.

“We buy from local distributors because this helps stimulate the local economy, instead of us going factory-direct,” explains Kaimi Chung, owner of Walter’s Electric. “It would be easier for me and Poncho to go to the Mainland and container all our stuff in, and we can probably go even way cheaper than what we already do, but it doesn’t help our economy down here. If we don’t start helping out local businesses, we aren’t going to be sustainable ourselves, and that’s what separates us — we’re two local guys that do local business with local distributors.”

These relationships also allow Poncho’s Solar and Walter’s Electric, together known as “The Winning Team,” to carry one of the largest selections of name-brand solar products that includes SolarWorld USA, Sharp, Canadian Solar, SunEarth, American Water Heaters, Enphase Energy, Samsung, ET Solar, Morningstar, Sanyo, SunPro, Motech, AUO and IronRidge. And unlike other solar system installation companies, Poncho’s Solar and Walter’s Electric will work one-on-one with customers to create a solar system unique to the specific needs of their homes.

“We don’t have a kit; we customize our systems to meet your needs,” Chung states.

“Every package is different because everybody’s house is going to be different … so we customize (each package) to give the customer an affordable system,” adds Poncho’s Solar owner Poncho Safranca. “I’m trying to give you the most for your dollar.”

Along with customizing all kits and systems, the Winning Team provides in-house design and permitting, along with a warranty that is custom-made, based on each customer’s specific solar system package.

In 2011 alone the team completed more than 1,000 job permits on all islands, helping household owners save hundreds on their home electric bill, as well as reduce their impact on the environment.

This year, Poncho’s Solar and Walter’s Electric are going a step further in making Hawaii a better place to live through Poncho’s Solar Outstanding Educator Award. Every month now through March 2013, Poncho’s Solar and Walter’s Electric will reward a local teacher with his or her choice of a free 10-panel photovoltaic system, solar hot water system or $5,000 in classroom supplies from Education Works.

“Teachers have had it rough. They get pay cuts, they get Furlough Fridays … They need a break, and we’re here to support the teachers and support them all year,” Safranca says.

The contest received dozens of entries after its launch in late February, which made selecting the first month’s winner a difficult task. But in the end, Shyja Vasquez’s nomination of Wahiawa Middle School eighth-grade teacher James Au stood out. An excerpt from the eighth-grader’s letter reads:

“We learn about things beyond our reach, so that we the students know what will become of us in later life, whether it’s good or bad.”

“That’s what really got me: He’s not only an educator, he’s a life-changer, that’s what this person wrote about,” says Chung. “To me, that’s where the world should be right now — he’s teaching more of life lessons than just the ABCs.”

To nominate a teacher who has impacted your life, visit www.ponchosolar.com or go to the www.staradvertiser.com homepage to find the link below the “Breaking News” section. Entries should be 250 words or fewer and state why the educator is special and deserving of this award. Additionally, the nominator whose letter is chosen will receive $500.

“I thought it’d be easier, but it’s hard to pick just one,” Safranca admits. “I think next round we’re going to receive even more letters.”

“Everybody is impacted by their teachers,” adds Chung. “We’re not gaining from this — we’re just giving away products to a deserving person.”

To learn more about Poncho’s Solar, located in Mapunapuna on Oahu, visit the webstite www.ponchossolarservices.com or call 422-4266 on Oahu for a free professional estimate of systems starting at $1,000 per panel (1-855-417-6527 on Maui, Kauai, Lanai and the Big Island). For more information about Walter’s Electric, based in Hilo on the Big Island, visit the web-site www.walterseletric inc.com.

ADDRESS: 650 KAKOI ST.
CONTACT: OAHU: 422-4266 • BIG ISLAND, MAUI, KAUAI & LANAI: 1-855-417-6527

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