Nestled The quiet foothills of Kailua-Kona, staff members of Hawaii Energy Connection visited with local resident Albert Akana, who became the first owner of the Kumukit Powerblocks™ energy storage system installed under HELCO’s Customer Grid Supply program on the Big Island.

On Dec . 29, 2016, managing partner Chris DeBone of Hawaii Energy Connection was there to turn on Akana’s Kumuki solar photovoltaic (PV) system, consisting of 30 LG 320 PV panels with 12.8 kWh Powerblocks™. “Our home energy management controller is what really sets us apart from all other energy storage systems. Powerblocks™ was designed in Hawaii for Hawaii. It’s basically tomorrow’s technology available today,” said DeBone.


Akana initially looked into getting a basic solar PV system for his home. But after learning about the different solar programs available and the direction the solar industry was heading, he decided the best route for him, even though it was more expensive up front was to get a PV system with energy storage backup that still had some connection to the utility grid.


“It seemed like the solar industry just stopped when the Net Metering (NEM) program ended, but then I saw the trend in storage,” Akana said. “I had researched three other PV companies with energy storage, like the Tesla Powerwall, and then I looked at the system offered by Hawaii Energy Connection with their Powerblocks™ and I’m pretty proud of making my decision to go with them.”

“I liked it because of its compact size and everything was inclusive,” he added. Akana referred to not just the batteries, but the inverters, the automatic transfer switch, the power control system, the safety features and the energy management controller, which comes standard with the system. Best yet, was that it was already available for installation.


Living in an HOA-managed subdivision, Akana discovered that some of the other battery systems he looked into were not going to work under their specifications, so sizing and the layout were important factors in his decision.

With a high electric bill, he is anxious to see how much he is saving. “I got solar PV because I know fuel prices are going to go higher and higher. If I can be self-sufficient to the point where the sun will provide me enough power with my PV during the day and the battery can provide me power to get me through the peak hours at night, I think I’m going to reduce our bill substantially,” said Akana.

“I’ve kind of taken some steps already by not washing clothes at night and running the pool pump during the day,” he added.


“I’m trying to maximize my PV during the day and use my batteries at night.”

If the name sounds familiar, Akana was the former drummer and singer of the original group, The Alii’s, who performed with the legendary Don Ho. Akana just returned from a charity reunion concert last month in Long Beach, California with other original members of the group. “I haven’t played the drums in over 30 years, so I had to pick up the sticks to practice all over. It’s not like riding a bicycle where you pick up and go,” he laughed.

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