The Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO) provides electric service to many places on the Big Island that are near major roads and have population densities that will support the cost of the electric infrastructure (power poles, transformers, etc.) However, many areas do not meet these criteria and are not serviced. If being "on the grid" is important to you, you need to research carefully electric utility availability for any property you intend to purchase. Most real estate listings will usually have a notation if electricity is available, however, there is often substantial cost (possibly several thousand dollars) when buying into the service, even if it runs right by your property. Contact me and as your agent I will try to help you through the process of sorting this out.
Be aware that HELCO's rates are the highest in the USA according to an official Nebraska government website. HELCO's published residential rate for 2003 was 22.14 cents per kilowatt hour. The Nebraska site reported the national average to be 7.37 cents per kilowatt hour as of November 2004. Its again another example of the cost of living in paradise.
On the up side, if you chose to live at an elevation with a comfortable temperature range, you should not be paying for much energy to heat or cool your home. Many homes do not even have heating or cooling systems here. At higher elevations, a small wood stove may bring comfort on cool winter nights. Much consideration should be given at lower, warmer elevations to designing your home to take advantage of the available cool breezes. Proper designs with good ventilation, roof insulation, and sun shielding overhangs and plantings will go a long way towards never having to use an air conditioner. Using less energy is not a bad goal for all of us. Plan on making your Hawaiian lifestyle an energy conscious experience. It is part of taking care of the land, the 'aina.
Many people in South Hawaii have by necessity or choice opted for alternative energy homes. Electric solar panels and water heaters are common on roofs. In some areas, especially areas near South Point, there is a dependable source of power in the wind.
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