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by Ku‘ulei Funn, Science & Environment editor

 

According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, a Colorado-based energy conservation organization, the state of Hawai‘i pays more for energy than any other state. Since 2002, with a steady increase in oil prices, Hawai‘i has spent more than $1 billion on increasing energy prices, an average of $1,850 per household.

In 2004, RMI released a study, entitled Winning the Oil Endgame, which described a business strategy for ending U.S. dependence on oil. The study included a detailed list of policy actions that would assist society’s adoption of renewable energy resources. Lingle incorporated many of RMI’s strategies in the Energy for Tomorrow policy in order to encourage and support the development of cost-effective, self-reliant renewable energy technology in Hawai‘i.

Five major elements of Lingle’s energy plan are:

· Savings through Efficiency encourages homes and businesses design standards to use energy efficiently

· Independence through Renewable Energy emphasizes the long-term benefits of reducing the use of fossil fuels, by using local renewable energy sources.

· Fuels through Farming encourages the production of alternative “renewable” transportation fuels such as ethanol, biodiesel, and hydrogen.

· Security through Technology encourages residents and businesses to seek ways to incorporate renewable energy into their homes and businesses

· Empowering Hawai‘i’s Consumers details the long-term cost benefits of using renewable energy and being a self-sufficient state.

On June 26, on Kaua‘i, Lingle signed Senate Bill 2957, a law that emphasizes energy self-sufficiency by:

· Increasing the income tax credit for renewable energy technologies for some solar-thermal, wind-powered and photovoltaic energy systems. For single-family residential solar systems the dollar cap is now $2,250, a 30 percent increase. Homeowners and businesses that install photovoltaic systems can now claim up to $5,000, a 240 percent increase. Developers of commercial wind-powered and photovoltaic systems can claim up to $500,000, a 100 percent increase.

· Establishing a “pay-as-you-save” project for more affordable residential solar hot water systems.

· Establishing a new statewide alternate fuel standard of 10 percent of highway fuel in use by 2010, 15 percent by 2015, and 20 percent by 2020.

· Establishing a renewable hydrogen program by providing seed and venture capital for investments in the research, development and testing of hydrogen power.

· Providing funding to assist the farmers interested in producing biomass energy such as bio-diesel and ethanol from agricultural waste streams.

On June 28, in Hilo, Lingle signed Senate Bill 3185 into law; as part of the Energy for Tomorrow vision, it emphasizes eneregy savings and efficiency by:

· Authorizing the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to establish and fund conservation programs that benefit the public support of energy efficiency.

· Authorizing the PUC to fairly distribute the cost of energy between the public utility and its customers. Currently, with the rising cost of oil, customers are absorbing the impact and the utility is not. On Maui, homeowners have seen a 50 percent increase, while residents of the Big Island and O‘ahu have experienced an increase of more than 30 percent.

· Authorizing the PUC to establish penalties for failure to meet the standards

Lingle said she would like to see Hawai‘i lead the country in renewable technologies. Hawai‘i has numerous renewable energy resources. The Puna Geothermal Venture on the Big Island and the Keheawa Wind Farm on the Island of Maui are a examples of successful renewable energy ventures, and Kalamalama will look at these, and other sources.

Sources: www.heco.com; www.hawaii.gov; and www.gradingandexcavation.com.

 

 

 

 

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