In Print

  • Hawaii Bill Mandates 100% Renewable Energy by 2045, but Obstacles Remain

    The National Law Review - June 1, 2015

    n an ambitious and unprecedented move, Hawaii is aiming to increase its current renewable energy output of 21% to a 100% quota by 2045. The state, which carries some of the U.S.’s highest electricity costs, is riding the momentum of decreasing renewable energy prices. Legislators believe Hawaii’s abundant sunshine, wind, ocean and tidal waves, and geothermal activity make it an ideal candidate for quitting fossil fuels.

  • The chamber, under new leadership, has identified which senators sit on which committees.

    Honolulu Civil Beat - June 4, 2015

    All that infighting between the Chess Club, the Opihis, the Tokuda Four and the few nonaligned Hawaii state senators has finally concluded.
    For now, anyway.

    On Thursday the Senate released its list of committee assignments following the palace coup of Oahu’s Donna Mercado Kim last month by Ron Kouchi of Kauai.
    As our Nathan Eagle, who broke the story, soon reported in a follow up piece, backers of Kim lost out in the awarding of leadership posts and committee chairs, while backers of Kouchi are now sitting high and mighty.

  • Final Pieces Fall Into Place for State Senate Reorganization

    Hawaii Sens. Laura Thielen, Russell Ruderman, Les Ihara and Gil Riviere are left out of power positions after in-session coup.
    Honolulu Civil Beat - May 22, 2015

    New Hawaii state Senate President Ron Kouchi announced the final lineup of committee chairmanships and leadership positions Friday morning, mostly settling unresolved posts from the rocky transition to power.

    He found a home for all but a few members of the Chess Club faction of the Senate who lost out when Donna Mercado Kim was deposed two days before the legislative session ended May 7.

  • Legislature OKs bill setting goal for green energy

    All of Hawaii's fuel would come from renewable sources if Ige signs the measure
    Honolulu Star Advertiser - May 6, 2015

    A bill that would make Hawaii the first state in the nation with a 100 percent-renewable-energy standard cleared the Legislature on Tuesday and is headed to the governor.

    House Bill 623 would set 2045 as the year Hawaii should reach a goal of producing 100 percent of its electric power from renewable energy sources.

    The House voted 50-1 to pass the bill. The Senate voted 24-1 in favor of the bill.

  • Hemp growing again in isle soil

    The University of Hawaii is using the crop for research
    Honolulu Star Advertiser - April 11, 2015

    For the first time in about 15 years, legally sanctioned industrial hemp is growing in Hawaii's soil — and local advocates hope that new economic growth will stem from the plant in the Aloha State.

    But hemp's success in Hawaii could depend on whether federal drug enforcement officials make it easier to import hemp seeds to the islands.

    Researchers, lawmakers and farmers used traditional oo sticks Friday to sprinkle newly acquired hemp seeds into a small soil patch at the University of Hawaii's Wai­ma­nalo Research Station, in the shadow of the Koo­lau mountain range.

  • New tool tracks sustainability progress

    Honolulu Star Advertiser - March 31, 2015

    Gov. David Ige will join the four county mayors, University of Hawaii President David Lassner and officials from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs on Wednesday to announce a new method for tracking Hawaii's progress on achieving sustainability goals.

    The event will feature the Aloha+ Challenge Dashboard, a new online tool that allows the public to track state and county progress on reaching two of the six Aloha+ Challenge targets. Those goals are for clean energy and solid-waste reduction.

  • Sustainability to remain under VP for Administrative Affairs

    Ka Leo - March 12, 2015

    Although a bill that would fund and establish a sustainability office within the University of Hawai‘i system has died, UH is considering creating an office.

    “The bill dying suggests, states, that our request for general funds will not be kind of met this year, which happens,” Vice President for Administration Jan Gouveia said. “That doesn’t mean that the university still can’t do a lot in terms of formalizing an office and bringing a lot more structure to the program, which we intend to do regardless.”

  • Will Hawaii Finally Become Last State to Ban New Cesspools?

    Health Department's plan to impose a ban last year was thwarted by then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie's inaction. Now the Legislature is getting into the act.
    Honolulu Civil Beat - March 11, 2015

    Concerned that raw sewage is contaminating coastal waters and threatening drinking water supplies, lawmakers have advanced two bills that would ban new cesspools and provide tax credits to help homeowners who already have cesspools convert to other systems.

    Hawaii has long been the only state that allows new cesspools, holes in the ground that discharge raw, untreated waste.

  • Here’s Another Thing To Love About Hawaii - March 11, 2015

    Hawaii is on track to pass legislation this year requiring the state to go 100 percent renewable by 2040.

    Earlier this month, committees in the Hawaii House and Senate both unanimously recommended bills that would raise the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) from the current target of 70 percent by 2030 to the ultimate goal of 100 percent by 2040. Hawaii has had an RPS since 2001, and right now the state gets just over 21 percent of its power from renewable sources — a 12 percent increase in just six years.

  • Bills offering bold renewable-energy goals gain traction

    Honolulu Star Advertiser - March 7, 2015

    Two bills proposing to boost the state's renewable-energy goal to 100 percent by 2045 at the latest have cleared major hurdles and are positioned for a vote by the full House and Senate.

    Senate Bill 715 proposes increasing Hawaii's use of renewable energy to 70 percent of total production by 2035 and 100 percent by 2040. Its companion, House Bill 623, proposes increasing the renewable-energy goal to 70 percent by 2035 and 100 percent by 2045.

    The state's current renewable-energy goal calls for 40 percent of all generation to come from renewables by 2030.

  • 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.