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Celestial Cinema Goes Solar

June 11, 2010
Maui Weekly

As residents and visitors flock to indulge in some movie magic at this year’s Maui Film Festival from June 16 through 20, the festival itself will be generating a little bit of magic. For the third consecutive year, the Maui Film Festival and Ha‘ikü’s Rising Sun Solar & Electric have teamed up to harness the sun’s rays to power the festival’s “crown jewel”—the Celestial Cinema in Wailea.

“We want to make this year’s festival as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible,” said Maui Film Festival Co-founder Stella Rivers, “and it just made sense to use solar power for this evening event.”

Several weeks ago, a 1.4-kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic (PV) system was installed adjacent to the Celestial Cinema’s 30- by 50-foot big screen. The system will operate in advance of the festival, crediting the Maui Film Festival’s electrical account with solar powered kW hours. The system will continue to operate until the festival’s power usage has been offset by onsite solar generation, thanks to a net metering contract with Maui Electric Company (MECO). Net metering allows homeowners and businesses to spin their electric meters in reverse when power is produced and not being used onsite, and then pull power from the grid as needed.

The solar energy created and exported to MECO during the day will offset the energy used after the sun disappears below the horizon—and the stars light up the big screen. While many other production companies may purchase so-called “carbon credits” or “green tags” in an effort to claim that a particular event is solar powered, the Maui Film Festival sets a new standard. Installing a net-metered solar system onsite during the event will demonstrate to attendees from around the globe how solar works in a much more tangible way.

Maui Film Festival Founders Barry and Stella Rivers are “walking the walk, and talking the talk,” as they are both committed to generating public awareness of the benefits of solar energy, as well as other sustainable resources.

“This is just one of the many ways we know the festival will be a success,” said Stella. “And we plan to continue using solar in the future.”

For more information about this year’s Maui Film Festival, visit, or to learn more about solar energy, visit or




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