In Print

  • Bills would give customers piece of the energy business

    Honolulu Star Advertiser - March 1, 2015

    Most Hawaii electricity customers are not in a position to own a piece of the utility, as the members of the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative do, and prospects for doing so remain a long way off at best.
    However, lawmakers are pushing measures, one moving through each chamber of the state Capitol, to give more of them a chance at least to own a piece of a power-generation system.

    Senate Bill 1050 and House Bill 484 began with language authored by state Sen. Mike Gabbard, whose efforts last session ended with a measure stalled in conference committee.

  • Time to end mandate for ethanol fuel

    Honolulu Star Advertiser - February 28, 2015

    Hawaii's grand ethanol experiment has come to naught. It is time to pull the plug.

    Mandating the use of ethanol as a transportation fuel, as the state has done since April 1, 2006, was supposed to revive the local sugar industry — ethanol is an alcohol-based fuel that can be made from sugar or corn — and reduce energy imports.

    Optimists predicted the creation of 700 jobs and the investment of more than $100 million to build ethanol-production plants in the state, spurred on by generous tax credits.

    Nearly 10 years out, it's clear that has not and will not occur.

  • Ethanol running out of gas

    A Senate panel OKs a bill that would end the mandate dictating that the biofuel be mixed in with Hawaii's petrol
    Honolulu Star Advertiser - February 26, 2015

    Mandating the use of ethanol as a transportation fuel in Hawaii was supposed to revive the local sugar industry and make the state more energy self-sufficient, but those plans never panned out.
    Instead, motorists here have been burning imported ethanol for almost a decade, and some state lawmakers want to abandon the ethanol requirement.

  • HECO holds solar hostage

    Honolulu Star Advertiser - February 25, 2015

    Hawaiian Electric Co. is sending out letters to potential solar customers saying their rooftop systems won't be approved until the state Public Utilities Commission rules on HECO's request to decrease the rate it pays for energy from home solar systems.

    HECO sent the letters last week to Hawaii island customers in neighborhoods with high solar penetration and will follow soon with similar letters to applicants on Oahu and in Maui County.

  • Energy bills would raise 'green' goal for state's power grid

    Some legislators want new clean-generation standards in place before HEI is sold
    Honolulu Star Advertiser - February 4, 2015

    Several bills have been introduced to the Legislature as some lawmakers say now is the time for Hawaii to commit to increased renewable energy generation, tax credits for renewable energy batteries, and community solar projects before the sale of Hawaiian Electric Co. is finalized.
    The proposals include setting a goal of having Hawaii's renewable resources make up 70 percent of the state's energy mix in 2035 and 100 percent in 2040. Currently the state has a goal of 40 percent renewable energy by 2030.

  • Clean Energy Advocates Push for 100 Percent Renewables

    Bill would advance Hawaii's clean energy mandates, but hotels say it could prevent them from switching to natural gas to save on electricity bills.
    Honolulu Civil Beat - February 4, 2015

    Hawaii could become the first state in the country to adopt energy mandates requiring the state’s utilities to derive 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, such as wind, solar and geothermal, if a bill backed by clean energy advocates is approved.

    Currently, Hawaiian Electric Co., serving Oahu, the Big Island and Maui County, as well as the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, are required to convert to 40 percent renewable energy by 2030 or face penalties.

  • Senator wants to add teeth to Hawaii electric vehicle parking law with fines up to $20k

    Pacific Business News - January 26, 2015

    A Hawaii state senator wants to add teeth to the state's current electric vehicle parking law by imposing hefty fines of up to $20,000 on owners of parking lots with 100 or more parking stalls open to the public that don't have at least one parking space with an EV charging station.

    "Many big-box stores have failed to comply [with the current law]," state Sen. Mike Gabbard, D-Kapolei-Makakilo-Ewa, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, told PBN in an email. "The problem is that Act 89 doesn't have any penalties."

  • Bills to watch: Top Hawaii energy issues in 2015

    Pacific Business News - January 27, 2015

    Hawaii's energy sector will get a lot of attention during this year's legislative session.

    From NextEra Energy's planned acquisition of Hawaiian Electric Co. to adding monetary penalties to the law requiring owners of parking lots that offer public parking stalls to provide electric vehicle charging stations, there will be lots to talk about at the state Capitol regarding this key industry.

  • State senator proposes updating Hawaii's energy goal to 100 percent renewable by 2040

    Pacific Business News - January 27, 2015

    State Sen. Mike Gabbard wants to update and extend Hawaii's transition to clean energy to 100 percent renewable by 2040.

    The current Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative has a goal of 40 percent renewable by 2030.

    Gabbard, D-Kapolei-Makakilo-Ewa, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, has introduced Senate Bill 715, which sets the new target. It is among several proposals to change the current goal. Hawaiian Electric Co.'s energy plan, which it submitted to Hawaii regulators last year, set a goal of 65 percent renewable by 2030.

  • Hawaii state senator concerned with Hawaiian Electric's new rooftop solar plan

    Pacific Business News - January 22, 2015

    A Hawaii state senator is concerned about Hawaiian Electric Co.'s plans to get rid of the net energy metering program, which credits rooftop solar customers at the full retail value of electricity.
    The program also has been one of the main factors for the record-breaking growth of rooftop solar in Hawaii.

    State Sen. Mike Gabbard, D-Kapolei-Makakilo-Ewa, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, told PBN that he does not think that getting rid of the program is the right decision for the state to continue to be a national leader in renewable energy.

  • Legislators want power to sway HECO decision

    Hawaiian Electric plans to add rooftop capacity but cut pay for extra juice
    Honolulu Star Advertiser - January 21, 2015

    Hawaiian Electric Co. said Tuesday it wants to double rooftop solar capacity while lowering the rate it pays solar customers for excess power, and state lawmakers said they'd like a say in whether to approve that plan.

    The utility said it has asked the Public Utilities Commission to approve the plan within 60 days.

    "Shouldn't you guys be introducing the bill (at the Legislature) and we would have the public involved?" said state Sen. Mike Gabbard (D, Kalaeloa-Maka¬¬kilo), chairman of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, at a Capitol briefing on energy policy.

  • Audit pans glass recycling effort

    Honolulu Star Advertiser - January 1, 2015

    A state audit is criticizing the Department of Health for its poor management of the state's nonbeverage glass recycling program.

    The audit pointed out numerous problems in the program, which requires manufacturers, importers or distributors of glass containers to pay a 1.5 cent fee for each container.

    The program is separate from the state's deposit beverage container program, which places a 5-cent deposit on bottles that consumers can redeem by recycling.

  • Solar rebates face dim future

    Hawaii incentives might cease, in light of a NextEra subsidiary's push to end a program in Florida
    Honolulu Star Advertiser - December 28, 2014

    Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy Industries, which plans to buy Hawaiian Electric Industries for $4.3 billion, does not favor tax rebates for renewable energy projects.

    Renewable energy incentives should be phased out over time, said NextEra Energy CEO Jim Robo in an interview after the Dec. 3 announcement.

  • Everybody Must Get Hemp

    In many ways, hemp is like a miracle crop and yet we can't grow it because it is related to marijuana. That needs to change.
    Honolulu Civil Beat - December 19, 2014

    What crop can be grown without pesticides and has over 25,000 uses — from textiles, cosmetics, paper and food to medicine, biofuel and smoothies?

    If you said hemp, you got it. My wife, Carol, knows the excellent nutritional value of hemp seeds and luckily for me, has been putting them in my smoothies for years!

    Not to be confused with marijuana, hemp contains less than 0.3 percent of the psychoactive component THC, while marijuana contains between 5 and 20 percent. In other words, you can’t get high from hemp!

  • Weathering HEI’s transition

    NextEra Energy vows to keep the utility’s workforce intact for now, but the company’s history of layoffs leaves long-term prospects cloudy
    Honolulu Star Advertiser - December 14, 2014

    NextEra Energy Industries, the Florida company that plans to buy Hawaiian Electric Industries for $4.3 billion, has a history of laying off workers to cut costs.

    When announcing the purchase on Dec. 3, NextEra Energy executives said they will not lay off any of HEI's 2,800 utility workers for two years but declined to say what would happen beyond that.

  • Nanakuli recycling facility is a big step for isle energy and economy, officials say

    Honolulu Star Advertiser - November 20, 2014

    PVT Land Co. introduced its recycling system to state and city officials at a blessing ceremony Wednesday at the company's Nanakuli facility.

    State Sen. Mike Gabbard and former state Rep. Karen Awana praised the project after PVT Land introduced a machine that can create fuel to help power Oahu homes.

    PVT Land provides another resource Hawaii can use to lower the price of energy, Gabbard said.

  • Celebrating solar

    KIUC dedicates state’s largest PV facility
    Garden Island News - September 26, 2014

    KOLOA — Kauai Island Utility Cooperative is now using the sun to generate as much as half of the island’s daytime energy needs, thanks to a new solar array in Koloa — the largest in the state.

    A dedication ceremony was held Thursday at the $40 million, 12-megawatt facility. The event was attended by U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard led by Kumu Sabra Kauka of Island School.

  • Big Ideas, Plenty of Uncertainty at Hawaii Environmental Council

    Annual strategic planning meeting focuses on invasive species, climate change and the struggle to combat them.
    Honolulu Civil Beat - August 22, 2014

    The Hawaii Environmental Council’s annual strategic planning meeting on Thursday started with weighty discussions of two major problems confronting the state: climate change and invasive species.
    Scientists are warning that climate change may result in rising seas and drought across the Hawaiian islands, and fallen albizia trees in Puna last weekend illustrated the unintended consequences of invasive plants.

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