Haleakala Solar Inc. has joined forces with Oahu-based Solar Wave Hawaii, making it one of Hawaii's largest solar and renewable energy contractors and priming it for statewide expansion, the companies announced Friday.
The combined company will employ more than 110 people, about two-thirds of those in Maui County, and there are plans to add 50 more positions this year, mostly on Oahu and Kauai, according to Jeff Powers, Haleakala's executive vice president on Oahu.
Haleakala Solar will be the name of the merged company, with James Whitcomb, founder of Haleakala Solar in 1977, taking over as chief executive officer, and Wendell Choy, chief executive officer of Solar Wave, serving as the company's president.
"We are fortunate to have Mr. Choy join our team," Whitcomb said. "He is an absolute expert in financing solar systems and maximizing energy production from these systems. With his talent and the experienced staff of Solar Wave, we believe we are the pre-eminent solar company in Hawaii."
Powers said that Whitcomb and Choy each bring strengths to the company - Whitcomb with his more than three decades of experience in the alternative energy industry and Choy with his financing expertise.
Choy also is a former Honolulu deputy prosecuting attorney.
The decision to form a single company brings it a "significant improvement in capability and growth potential," Powers said, acknowledging that other solar-power companies may use the merger as a model for better business.
The companies have been on the rising wave of alternative energy growth in the islands.
Haleakala's revenue has grown from $4 million in 2009 to $6 million in 2010 and $19 million last year, Powers said. Solar Wave's revenue was reported at $2 million in 2009, doubling to $4 million in 2010 and rising to nearly $8 million last year.
Haleakala Solar has installed more than 9,000 solar systems since 1977. The company has solar systems on all of the main Hawaiian Islands.
Haleakala Solar employs 94 workers at five Hawaii locations: three on Oahu and two on Maui. On Maui, there is a showroom at the Maui Mall and a baseyard in Puunene. On Oahu, there is a showroom at 2700 S. King St. and administrative offices and a warehouse elsewhere in Honolulu.
Solar Wave has designed and installed systems for Punahou School, Iolani School and Mid-Pacific Institute, as well as many other prominent locations on Oahu, according to an announcement. Solar Wave has also installed systems on the Big Island and Maui.
According to Haleakala Solar, its systems conserve more than 80,000 barrels of oil per year, saving their customers more than $9 million annually, while eliminating thousands of tons of pollutants from entering the skies above Hawaii.
The company plans to open offices on the Big Island and Kauai this year.
A residential solar power system can cost from $15,000 to $50,000, depending on the size of a home, its residents' energy demands and other factors, such as whether there's already a solar hot water system in place, Powers said.