Our Islands, Our Future
Derrick Sonoda of Hawaii Energy

Derrick Sonoda of Hawaii Energy

Qualifying nonprofits and small businesses can help save the environment, and save money too, by acting fast to accept a free offer by enrolling in a new energy initiative. The first shipment of energy-saving LED lamps gets distributed this week to participants in the Lighting the Future program. The program, coordinated by Hawaii Energy, aims to raise awareness for the need to reduce dependence on imported oil, keeping money in our economy and conserving our resources. Lighting is the second-largest energy expense for most Hawaii small businesses—the largest is air conditioning, according to Hawaii Energy Director of Operations Derrick Sonoda.

For lighting, Hawaii Energy and its partner, Toshiba, are offering LED lamps at no cost to qualified small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Participants agree to install the new lighting technology prior to June 30. More than 200 entities across the state have taken up the offer. “It’s tremendous,” Sonoda says of the response so far. Qualified businesses and nonprofits should go to for more information.

Each LED lamp provides an estimated 30,000 hours of light compared to 2,000 hours for a conventional incandescent light bulb. A LED lamp lasts between six and seven years before it needs to be replaced. Qualified businesses and nonprofits can ask for as many LED lamps as they need to install. “If you can screw in a light bulb, you can get energy savings,” Sonoda said. He said energy costs affect prices of all kinds of goods, including one of Hawaii’s favorite indulgences. “Everything is so dependent in the state on oil, even the price of Spam musubi is affected.”

Also supporting this energy-saving initiative are Hawaii Energy’s distribution partners, who have agreed to provide assistance in getting the LED lamps to the participating businesses and nonprofits. The Maui Economic Development Board is one of many that have agreed to serve as a distribution center for the LED lamps. Sonoda said community support is crucial to Lighting the Future’s success. “If we don’t tackle this as a community, it will kill us… we really need to be less tied to oil.”