Press Releases

HECO TO UPDATE LAWMAKERS ON BACKLOGGED SOLAR INTERCONNECTIONS

HONOLULU (January 15, 2015) - State lawmakers will hold a joint Senate-House informational briefing on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 1 p.m. in Conference Room 329 to get an update on Hawaiian Electric Company’s (HECO) recent policy changes to solar interconnection. The new policy, which went into effect on September 6, 2013 requires approval from HECO before any solar photovoltaic (PV) installation. Since the policy change, many solar customers have been facing delays in getting their PV systems connected to the grid.

Topics of the briefing will include the status of the solar interconnection queue, non-export solar PV systems, and plans for the future integration of distributed generation. Presenting will be Hawaiian Electric Company, Hawai‘i Solar Energy Association, Hawai‘i PV Coalition, and The Alliance for Solar Choice.

In October, HECO announced a plan to start clearing the backlog of customers awaiting connection to the grid by April 2015, and along with solar installers, funded a study to find out how residential solar can continue to grow in the state. An update on HECO’s progress and results of the study will be discussed during the briefing.

“As we kick off the 2015 session, this is a perfect time to hear where we are on roof top solar", said Sen. Mike Gabbard, chair of the Committee on Energy and Environment. “Policies that make it easier for people to get solar PV continues to be one of my top legislative priorities.”

The briefing is hosted by Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, Senate Committee Commerce and Consumer Protection, House Committee on Energy and Environmental, and the House Committee on Protection and Consumer Protection and Commerce.

Hearing Notice: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2015/hearingnotices/HEARING_ENE-CPN...
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*For media inquiries and interviews, please call the office of Sen. Mike Gabbard at 808-586-6830.

LAWMAKERS TO GET UPDATE ON INVASIVE SPECIES THREATS

Honolulu (January 6, 2015) – The Senate Committee on Energy and Environment (ENE) and House Committee on Energy and Environment Protection (EEP) have scheduled an informational briefing on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 10 a.m. in conference room 225 to get an update on invasive species threats to Hawaii. The committees will hear from state departments and organizations tasked with implementing the programs for the prevention, control, research and outreach related to invasive species issues.

The Department of Agriculture will be bringing deceased specimens of invasive species including the coconut rhinoceros beetle, little fires ant, coffee berry borer, coqui frog, brown tree snake, stinging nettle caterpillar, and Madagascar hissing cockroach.

“Invasive species threaten our quality of life, native species, the health of our agricultural industries and the economy as a whole,” said Sen. Mike Gabbard, chair of ENE. “Whether it’s little fire ants, coconut rhinoceros beetles, coqui frogs, or albizia, all our communities are being negatively impacted. Eliminating the spread of invasive species continues to be a top priority for lawmakers. We’ll be looking at a variety of legislation this session to continue the fight against invasive species.”

“The spread of invasive species is an environmental and economic issue,” added Rep. Chris Lee, chair of the EEP Committee. “In recent months, we’ve seen the coffee berry borer make its way from Hawaii Island to Oahu and possibly now Maui. This briefing will help inform lawmakers on current threats, what preventive and offensive measures are in place, and what more can be done.”

Presentations by:
· The Nature Conservancy
· Hawaii Invasive Species Council
· Department of Agriculture – Plant Quarantine Branch
· Department of Agriculture – Plant Pest Control Branch
· Invasive Species Committees
· Department of Land and Natural Resources – Division of Forestry and Wildlife
· Watershed Partnerships
· Department of Land and Natural Resources – Division of Aquatic Resources

More information on the briefing can be found on the hearing notice: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2015/hearingnotices/HEARING_ENE-EEP...

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LAWMAKERS SCHEDULE BRIEFING TO HEAR FROM HECO ON PLANS FOR DISTRIBUTED GENERATION AND IMPACTS OF ITS 2013 SOLAR INTERCONNECTION POLICY CHANGES

HONOLULU (September 10, 2014) – Senate and House lawmakers have scheduled a hearing to get an update from the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) and various solar organizations on the current status of solar interconnection and future plans for distributed generation.

Last September, HECO notified its customers of a policy change that would require permission from the company to proceed with the installation of a PV system. Since the policy change, many solar customers have been facing delays in getting their PV systems connected to the grid.

“There are a lot of moving pieces right now and we need to bring all stakeholders together to connect the dots,” said Sen. Mike Gabbard, chair of the Energy and Environment Committee. “We have solar companies and customers still very unhappy that they can’t connect to the grid. The bottom line is we want to know more about what has already been done and what’s planned for the future to ensure that solar continues to be an option for our residents.”

The hearing is scheduled for Friday, September 19 at 1 p.m. in Conference Room 325 of the Hawaii State Capitol with Senate and House committees on energy and environment, and commerce and consumer protection. It can be viewed live on Olelo Channel 49.

The hearing notice can be found on the Legislature’s website at: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2014/hearingnotices/HEARING_ENE-CPN...

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SENATE'S CAPITOL IDOL RAISES OVER $1,700 FOR THE HAWAII FOODBANK

Honolulu (April 15, 2014) The Capitol Idol II: The Return of Capitol Idol, a government talent show, raised over $1,700 for the Hawaii Foodbank. In 2012, the event raised $1,400.

Members of the executive branch and legislature didn't hold anything back to win the coveted individual and team perpetual trophies. However, Blake Oshiro, Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Neil Abercrombie, and his backup dancers outshone everyone with "Last Dance."

Sen. Mike Gabbard organized the fundraiser and comedian Champ Kaneshiro volunteered as emcee.

"We all had a lot of fun for a good cause as we approach a hectic time during the legislative session," said Gabbard. "We surpassed what we brought in last year and it's all thanks to our guests and the performers."

Performers included:

Team Executive Branch: Linda Rosen, Director of the Dept. of Health; Keali‘i Lopez, Director of the Dept. of Commerce and Consumer Affairs; Maria Zielinksi, Deputy Director of the Dept. of Accounting and General Services; Audrey Hidano, Deputy Director of the Department of Transportation; Keone Kali, Chief Information Officer; Joshua Wisch, Deputy Director of the Dept. of Taxation; Jesse Souki, Deputy Director of the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources; and Blake Oshiro, Deputy Chief of Staff

Team House: Reps. Lauren Cheap Matsumoto and Ken Ito

Team Senate: Sen. Russell Ruderman, backed by Sens. Rosalyn Baker, Will Espero, Mike Gabbard, Michelle Kidani and Suzanne Chun-Oakland; Sen. Mike Gabbard; Sen. Malama Solomon with back-up singers Sen. Brickwood Galuteria and senate staff; and Da Kolohe Bruddahs, consisting of Sens. Mike Gabbard, Brickwood Galuteria and Russell Ruderman.

STATE LEADERS TAKE THE STAGE FOR CAPITOL IDOL II

Honolulu (April 11, 2014) – Everyone’s got talent, right? We’ll see about that at Capitol Idol II: The Return of Capitol Idol, a government talent show fundraiser for the Hawai‘i Foodbank, featuring a handful of brave government leaders from the executive and legislative branches. Members of the Senate, House and executive branch will sing, dance, and showcase other talents to win the applause of audience members on Monday, April 14 from 5-7 p.m. in the Capitol Auditorium. Admission is FREE. The event is hosted by Senator Mike Gabbard, with Champ Kaneshiro, of The Champ Show on OC16, emceeing.

The first Capitol Idol was held in 2012, with Rep. Marcus Oshiro (aka “Madame Moshiro”) stealing the show. People are still talking about the lady in the red dress today. However, the word lingering about Capitol hallways is that the Senate will definitely be rocking the House this year. Individual and Senate/House perpetual trophies are at stake, but more importantly, bragging rights go to the winners for a year.

“We hope to see lots of smiling faces in the audience this year,” said Gabbard. “We want to surpass what we raised last year and encourage everyone to dig deep and support this very worthy cause. You won’t be disappointed in the show.”

Competing from the executive branch are Linda Rosen, Director of the Dept. of Health; Keali‘i Lopez, Director of the Dept. of Commerce and Consumer Affairs; Maria Zielinksi, Deputy Director of the Dept. of Accounting and General Services; Audrey Hidano, Deputy Director of the Department of Transportation; Keone Kali, Chief Information Officer; Joshua Wisch, Deputy Director of the Dept. of Taxation; Jesse Souki, Deputy Director of the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources; and Blake Oshiro, Deputy Chief of Staff.

In the House’s corner, Reps. Lauren Cheap Matsumoto and Ken Ito will take the stage on behalf of their 51 members.

Representing the Senate are Sens. Russell Ruderman, Mike Gabbard and Malama Solomon. In addition, a group called Da Kolohe Bruddahs, given their name, will surely rouse laughter in the auditorium. The group wishes to remain anonymous, so the only way to find out who they are is to attend.

Although this is a FREE event, it is also a fundraiser to raise money for the Hawaii Food Bank. Therefore, state employees are encouraged to donate $1 for a scrip worth one vote. Per the State Ethics Commission, only state employees can purchase scrips.

Votes (scrips) from the audience will determine the winner. Scrips can be picked up in Gabbard’s office, Capitol Room 201, until 5 p.m. on Monday, April 14. After 5 p.m., scrips can be picked up in Capitol Room 016 until 15 minutes after the end of the show. There is no limit on the number of scrips that a state employee can purchase. And people can vote for their favorites as much as they wish.

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STATEMENT FROM SEN. MIKE GABBARD ON THE JOINT SENATE-HOUSE INFORMATIONAL BRIEFING ON FUEL LINKS AT U.S. NAVY FUEL STORAGE FACILITY

Date: March 7, 2014

“On Wednesday, I went on a tour of the Navy’s Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility with other legislators to see first-hand the situation with the recent fuel leak on January 13th. Today, we heard from the U.S. Navy, the Department of Health, and the Honolulu Board of Water Supply during an informational briefing at the Capitol. We definitely appreciated the openness of the Navy and have learned much about the current situation with the leak of 27,000 gallons of fuel. Our main goal is to work toward a situation where we can hopefully prevent any future leaks, so that we can ensure the safety of our water supply and the surrounding environment. This will require a major, ongoing effort by all agencies involved.”

Sen. Mike Gabbard, chair of the Energy and Environment Committee

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SENATE AND HOUSE LAWMAKERS TO HOLD INFORMATIONAL BRIEFING ON DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION’S SUSTAINABLE ENERGY PROGRAM

Date: March 7, 2014

What:
Joint Senate-House informational briefing to provide an update on Ka Hei, the Department of Education’s five-year comprehensive sustainability energy program.

Given the interest in renewable energy and technology in the effort to create a master cooling strategy for all schools, a discussion of measures such as SB2424 SD2 is expected.

Capitol TV will broadcast this informational briefing live statewide on ‘Ōlelo channel 49.

When:
Monday, March 10, 2014
2:00 p.m.

Where:
Hawaii State Capitol
Room 309

Who:
The Senate Committee on Education; the House Committee on Education; the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment; and the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection

The following have been invited to speak: Hawaii Department of Education (DOE); Chevron Hawaii; the University of Hawaii’s Natural Energy Institute; and the State Energy Office of the Hawaii Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT)

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SENATE AND HOUSE LAWMAKERS SCHEDULE BRIEFING ON NAVY FUEL LEAK

Honolulu (February 14, 2014) Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, today announced that Hawai‘i lawmakers are taking action to protect and inform the public through an informational briefing on the Navy fuel leak situation and its impacts on our water resources.

Committees on subject matters relating to energy and environment, health, and public safety and military affairs from both the Senate and House will sit down with Navy officials and other relevant government agencies (to be announced at a later date) to learn more about the situation: how it happened, what are the impacts, and what's being done to ensure it doesn't happen again.

The joint Senate-House informational briefing is scheduled for Friday, March 7, 2014 at 1 p.m. at the Hawai'i State Capitol in Room 329.

HOUSE-SENATE MEASURES TO ADDRESS HARBOR SPILL

WHO: Rep. Chris Lee, Chair, House Energy & Environmental Protection Committee
Sen. Mike Gabbard, Chair, Senate Energy & Environment Committee

WHAT: Press Conference

WHEN: Monday, January, 27, 2014
11:00 a.m.

WHERE: Fourth Floor Lanai
Hawaii State Capitol

Representative Chris Lee and Senator Mike Gabbard have introduced measures in both houses addressing issues relating to ocean-harbor spills in the aftermath of the September 2013 molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor and will be holding a joint press conference. The bills address emergency response, reporting, and oversight responsibilities for state agencies involved in marine spills.

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ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITTEES TO HOLD INFORMATIONAL BRIEFING ON THREAT OF INVASIVE SPECIES

HONOLULU – January 7, 2014 – The Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, chaired by Senator Mike Gabbard, and the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection, chaired by Rep. Chris Lee, will host an informational briefing on problems caused by invasive species on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. in Conference Room 225 in the State Capitol.

The Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture’s Plant Quarantine Branch will bring examples of invasive species, such as little fire ants and strawberry guava. They will also display Brazilian scale, a biocontrol agent for invasive strawberry guava; Madagascan Fireweed Moth, a biocontrol agent for invasive fireweed; an African wasp, a biocontrol agent for the invasive Erythrina Gall Wasp which attacks wiliwili trees; and native collector urchins, a biocontrol agent for invasive algae.

Presentations will be made by:

· Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species
· Hawaii Invasive Species Council
· Department of Agriculture - Plant Quarantine Branch
· Island-based Invasive Species Committees
· Department of Land and Natural Resources - Division of Forestry & Wildlife
· Department of Land and Natural Resources - Division of Aquatic Resources
· Department of Agriculture - Plant Pest Control Branch

Here is a link to the hearing notice: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2014/hearingnotices/HEARING_ENE-EEP...

For more information, please contact Senator Gabbard's office at 586-6830.

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