Press Releases

Statement by Senator Mike Gabbard Regarding Hawaiian Electric's Decision to Grandfather PV Solar Customers Held Up by Their Recent Policy Changes

Honolulu, November 27, 2013 – Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Senate of the Energy and Environment Committee, made the following statement regarding Hawaiian Electric's decision to grandfather PV solar customers held up by their recent policy changes.

"I commend both Hawaiian Electric and the solar industry for sitting down and talking story over the last several weeks to find a solution for those solar PV customers who've been held up from getting their systems connected to the grid. This was the only fair thing to do, considering many of these folks already had a PV system on their roof, but weren't getting the benefit of reducing their electricity bills. I'm hopeful these constructive talks will continue to ensure that the solar industry keeps growing, the grid stays reliable, and homes & businesses continue having the opportunity to go solar in a timely and low-cost manner."


Statement by Senator Mike Gabbard Regarding Solar PV Interconnection Hearing

(Honolulu, October 14, 2013) The Energy & Environmental Protection, Energy & Environment, Consumer Protection & Commerce, and Commerce & Consumer Protection committees held an informational briefing today at the State Capitol to discuss recent changes to Hawaiian Electric Company’s solar PV grid interconnection policies.

Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, issued this statement after the hearing:

“One positive result of today’s discussion is that HECO has made the decision to allow 228 customers who already had a PV contract before these interconnection changes to go ahead and connect to the grid. But we’re still faced with the huge problem that PV installations on O‘ahu are virtually at a standstill. This means the solar industry is laying off people during its busiest time of the year and homeowners and businesses can’t move forward with installing PV to lower their electricity costs. I’ve asked HECO and the solar industry to report back to the Legislature by November 14th on the progress they’ve made in coming up with a solution.”


Legislators Want to Know Impact on Consumers and Solar Industry

WHO: House and Senate Committees on Energy and Environment and Consumer Protection

WHAT: Informational Briefing

WHEN: Monday, October 14, 2013, 1:00 p.m.

WHERE: Hawai‘i State Capitol Conference, Room 325

Honolulu, Hawai‘i – Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) will update legislators on recent changes to its solar photovoltaic grid interconnection policies, the justification for the changes and how they will affect consumers and solar installers.

HECO, the Hawai‘i Solar Energy Association, Hawai‘i PV Coalition and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council will offer presentations.


Senator Mike Gabbard Applauds Governor for Enacting “PV Renter” Bill

Date: July 3, 2013

Honolulu- Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law today a measure to encourage renewable energy generation on rental and leased property.

Senate Bill (SB) 19, enacted as Act 261, removes the barriers for landlords and lessors to install renewable energy systems for their tenants and lessees by removing them from the definition of what constitutes a public utility.

“I'm a big supporter of distributed generation - generating electricity where it's used. That's why I introduced SB 19 to get rid of the barriers to allowing renters to also access PV. Renters make up 40% of our population, so it's huge that they'll now be able to lower their electricity bills but without having to pay the upfront cost,” said Senator Mike Gabbard, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and the Environment.

SB 19 will allow landlords and lessors to install renewable energy systems on their property and then sell that electricity to their tenants or lessees on the premises. The bill requires that the electricity rate charged must be lower than that charged by the utility and be included as a provision in the lease.

Gabbard continued, "These energy savings will greatly benefit our renters, including those in Kalaeloa who are faced with a steep electricity hike recently announced by the Navy. It will also open up a great investment opportunity for places like Ala Moana Center that could put up a big PV system and then sell the electricity to the different stores in the mall."
The bill went into effect immediately upon receiving the signature of the Governor today.

Statement by Senator Mike Gabbard in Response to Governor's Signing of Green Infrastructure Financing Bill

Date: June 27, 2013

Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law today Senate Bill (SB) 1087, which establishes a green infrastructure financing program.

Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, issued this statement in response to the enactment of SB 1087:

"This innovative, first in the nation legislation allows us to do something unprecedented and that's to join bond financing with on-bill repayment," said Senate Committee on Energy and Environment Chair Mike Gabbard. "This program is going to be huge in providing lower and middle income folks with greater access to PV and other energy efficiency improvements, allowing them to borrow the money at extremely low interest rates and then repay the loans over time on their monthly their electric bills. Laws like this will make our state the model for the world to follow."

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HONOLULU, February 14, 2013 - Senator Mike Gabbard (West Oahu), Chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, honored the Super Green Champions and the State Capitol building, as the winner of the Capital 10 Energy Challenge, during a floor presentation in the State Senate Chambers on February 15th at 11:30am.

Senator Gabbard said, "Our Green Champions are one of the main reasons why we're making great progress in reducing our energy load in state buildings. It definitely makes sense to say mahalo to them all for a job very well done."

Green Champions are 30 state employees who volunteered to lead energy conservation efforts within their departments. They were trained and supported by specialists with the Energy Conservation Through Behavior Change team from NORESCO, an energy services company contracted by the Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS). The four Super Green Champions being recognized are: Paulette Abe of the House of Representatives Sgt. of Arms; Jon Chin of the Department of Business, Economic Development, & Tourism; Roxanne Moore of the Department of Taxation; and Will Tungol of the Department of Human Services.

The Capital 10 Energy Challenge was launched by Senator Gabbard in partnership with DAGS & NORESCO in January 2012 to further the conservation efforts already in place. The challenge was modeled after the EPA's "Battle of the Buildings", a nationwide event that challenged state offices to reduce energy consumption.

Each of the ten Capitol District Buildings was asked to identify and adopt methods to maximize energy savings. After a year of participation, the ten buildings were able to significantly reduce their energy consumption by a combined 7%. The State Capitol building won the competition with a 16% energy reduction.

For more information on the Challenge or the event, please contact Senator Gabbard's office at 586-6830.

Hawaii’s Electrical Rates to be Discussed

Honolulu – The Senate Committees on Commerce and Consumer Protection and Energy and Environment will be holding a joint informational briefing on Tuesday, January 29 at 8:30 a.m. in the State Capitol’s Auditorium.

The purpose of this informational briefing is to receive information on factors that impact electric rates, the rate- making process and to identify potential solutions to reduce the adverse impacts of increasingly high electric rates on consumers statewide.

As electrical rates continue to climb, it is important for us to look for ways that could reduce rates and help lessen the burden of high utility costs on our constituents,” said Senator Roz Baker, chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection.

The Committee is interested in information about efforts to create an integrated electrical grid using available renewable energy and firm power to benefit consumers with lower rates and reach our green energy goals efficiently and cost-effectively.

We want to hear the strategies the PUC and the utilities plan to use to incorporate more renewable energy onto the grid,” said Senator Mike Gabbard, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment.

The Committee is also interested in hearing what potential challenges may arise and the strategies that will be used address those challenges.
The following organizations are invited to participate:
• Public Utilities Commission (PUC), Hermina Morita, Chair
• Jeffrey Ono, Executive Director, Division of Consumer Advocacy, Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs,
• Robbie Alm, Executive Vice President, Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc.
• Sharon Suzuki, President, Maui Electric Company, Ltd.
• Jay Ignacio, President, Hawaii Electric Light Company, Inc.
• David Bissell, President and Chief Executive Officer, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative

The briefing will be broadcast live on Oahu on Olelo channel 53. For neighbor island broadcast information, please call the following public access organizations:
• Kauai: Ho’ike Community Television (, phone (808) 246-1556 (no web-streaming).
• Maui: Akaku: Maui Community Television (, phone (808) 871-5554 (web-streaming available).
• Big Island: Na Leo O Hawaii (, phone (808) 935-8874 (Hilo) or (808) 329-9617 (Kailua-Kona) (web-streaming available).


HONOLULU – January 10, 2013 – The Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, with Senator Mike Gabbard as the Chair, will host an informational briefing on invasive species issues on Friday, January 11, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. in Conference Room 229 in the State Capitol.

The briefing will feature live animals from the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture’s Plant Quarantine Branch as examples of invasive species interceptions. A ball python, a tarantula, coqui frogs, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, a bearded dragon, a Cuban knight anaole, and a Madagascar Giant Day Gecko will be on display.

Legislators and the public are invited to view the animals and hear presentations about the impacts of invasive species in their communities. The Departments of Land and Natural Resources and Agriculture will discuss their priorities for preventing and managing invasive species. Additionally, the Invasive Species Committees and the Watershed Partnerships will present priority projects, successes, and challenges in each county.

In 2003, the Hawai‘i State Legislature declared invasive species the single greatest threat to Hawaii’s environment, agriculture, economy, health and way of life. In 2005, the State Legislature created the Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council (HISC) to provide state-level coordination, direction, and planning across departments. HISC Co-Chairs, William Aila (DLNR) and Russell Kokubun (DOA) will speak on the legislative goals for their departments.

Here is a link to the hearing notice:

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


Honolulu – November 12, 2012 – Senator Mike Gabbard (West Oahu), Chair of the Senate's Energy and Environment Committee, will honor nationally renowned physician and health expert, Dr. John McDougall, at the Ala Wai Golf Course Clubhouse (404 Kapahulu Avenue) on November 13th at 7pm. Dr. McDougall is in town to make a presentation sponsored by the Vegetarian Society of Hawai‘i called "The Diet Wars: The Time for Unification is Now."

Gabbard said, "Dr. McDougall is doing great work by helping thousands of people across the country improve their health through a vegetarian diet. He deserves this recognition for giving people the tools and knowledge they need to heal both our environment and themselves."

Dr. McDougall has been studying, writing and speaking out about the effects of nutrition on disease for over 30 years. He is a veteran of the natural wellness movement and a best-selling author who has helped thousands improve their quality of life by helping them switch to a low-fat vegetarian diet primarily consisting of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes.

When he was 18 years old, Dr. McDougall suffered a massive stroke which he attributed to his standard American diet high in animal protein and fat. In the mid 1970s, while practicing medicine in Hawaiʻi, he noticed that his elderly Asian patients, who lived mainly on rice and vegetables, were trim and healthy compared to their offspring who adopted the American diet. In response, Dr. McDougall switched to a traditional Asian, heart-healthy diet for himself and became his own positive testimonial after shedding many unwanted pounds of harmful fat.

Dr. McDougall is currently the Medical Director of the McDougall Program, a highly successful residential program of over twenty years located in Santa Rosa, California.

For more information, contact Vegetarian Society President Lorraine Sakaguchi at 255-4117.


Honolulu – September 10, 2012 – Senator Mike Gabbard (West Oahu), Chair of the Energy and Environment Committee, presented a certificate from the State Senate to Oka's Body Shop in Waipahu today.

Senator Gabbard recognized Oka's for being one of three companies in the nation to receive the FIT Sustainability Award from the AkzoNobel Automobile & Aerospace Coatings Americas in San Antonio, TX on July 19, 2012: Other winners were Keenan Auto Body of Clifton Heights, PA and Enterprise-Rent-A-Car of St. Louis, MO.

Gabbard said, "When we think of auto body shops, we don't necessarily think of green practices. That makes it even more impressive that Oka's has taken such a huge step in generating all their power with solar PV panels. They're truly a leader in helping our state become more sustainable."

This was the third annual FIT Sustainability Award, an industry recognition program devoted to honoring businesses and organizations actively engaged in practices that advance the concepts of sustainability through “Focus, Innovation and Talent”, the three key principles of FIT.

Eddie Okahara, the owner of Oka Auto Body for the last 47 years, has been dedicated to recycling the cardboard and other materials from his shop for many years. They also use car refinishes that are waterborne and gentler on the environment. In 2010, Oka’s Auto Body and contractor Hawaiʻi Energy Connections, LLC worked together to install a photovoltaic system that allows the shop to operate 100% off the grid.

Senator Mike Gabbard presented a certificate from the State Senate to Oka's Auto Body owners, Eddie & Marlene Okahara, and their team in Waipahu on September 10th to recognize them for receiving the FIT Sustainability Award.