Aloha e Friends,

The 2015 Legislative Session ended on May 7th. This was my 7th session as the Chair of the Energy and Environment Committee. IMHO, it was a banner year for clean energy legislation!

There was a shake-up in the Senate Leadership at the end of session. Senator Ron Kouchi of Kaua`i replaced Senator Donna Kim as Senate President. I’m now the Chair of the newly-created Water, Land, and Agriculture Committee. This committee will allow me to continue my work on the future sustainability of our islands. I’ll also be the Vice Chair of the Transportation and Energy Committee.
Here are some short summaries of key bills that I championed as the Chair of the Energy and Environment Committee Chair that passed the Legislature this session:

• HB 623 – requires the state to get 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045. (In 2008, we were at 9%; currently we're at 21%). This is a first in the nation law and makes us the most populated set of islands in the world with an independent grid to establish this goal.
• SB 1050 – requires our electric utilities to apply with the Public Utilities Commission by October 1, 2015 to establish a community-based renewables program. This will allow people to hui up, find a piece of land, and purchase or lease however many PV panels they want and then get a credit on their electricity bill for the energy they produce. This will benefit our renters and those without roof space, because they too can now lower their electricity bills and do something good for our environment.
• SB 349 – establishes a tax credit of up to $3 million per year through 2020 for the production of renewable fuels, such as methanol, ethanol, hydrogen, biodiesel, and biogas, at a local facility. These renewable fuels can be made from feedstocks, such as algae, jatropha, palm oil, solid waste, and used cooking oil.
• SB 717 – repeals the existing law that requires gasoline sold in the state to include 10% ethanol. This makes sense given that we are importing 45 million gallons of the ethanol from the mainland each year, which doesn’t benefit our economy.
• HB 1150 – establishes a tax credit of up to $10,000 so that people with cesspools can upgrade to a septic system. This is a good idea because our state has close to 90,000 cesspools, which have a negative impact on our environment.

As always, best wishes to you and your family. Please contact me at 586-6830 or if I can help you or your family in any way.

Me ke aloha pumehana, 

Mike Gabbard, State Senator, District 20

Chair, Energy/Environment Committee


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