DOE Updates Lawmakers on 5-Year Program to Reduce Energy Costs

Lawmakers discuss SB2424 SB2, master strategy for cooling of public school facilities

 The Senate and House Committees on Education and Energy yesterday heard from the Department of Education (DOE) to get an update on Ka Hei, the department’s five-year comprehensive sustainability energy program. The goal of the program is to integrate innovative energy technology with meaningful learning experiences, all while reducing energy costs and operational expenses.  (The hearing can be viewed at the Senate Webcast Archive Pilot.)

Also in attendance were Chevron Hawaii, University of Hawaii’s Hawaii Natural Energy Institute and the Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism, State Energy Office.

Much of the discussion focused around renewable energy and technology to create a master cooling strategy for all schools.

Senator Jill Tokuda, chair of the Committee on Education, said that an optimal course of action for cooling should start with the quick but efficient collection of good data related to school cooling needs and challenges to help lawmakers make decisions on how to strategically approach this issue and devise a plan to sustain both the funding and infrastructure moving forward.

“We would be doing the public a disservice by simply appropriating funds without strategically looking at the best possible way to provide the needed infrastructure upgrades while understanding how it fits into our overall facilities master plan and remaining cost-effective, efficient and sustainable,” said Senator Tokuda.

Currently moving through the legislative process this session is a measure that addresses the issue of cooling Hawaii schools. Senate Bill 2424 would require the DOE and the Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS), together with various state entities, to develop a master strategy to cool all public school facilities and conduct a comprehensive study that addresses factors such as the electrical standards needed and costs associated with furnishing and maintaining air conditioning units in school buildings.

“Many of Hawaii’s school buildings were not built to accommodate sources that require substantial electrical needs and are not even optimal to sustain renewable energy technologies,” said Sen. Tokuda. “Cooling and upgrading our schools is a priority for lawmakers and I believe there is a desire to provide a significant amount of resources in the budget towards the cause,” added Tokuda. “Bu we need to do it smart. We will be at a good place with the work of Ka Hei program and other initiatives, and SB2424 will help us move forward strategically.”

In their testimony, Ka Hei representatives provided lawmakers with a projected timeline of five phases that would run from 2014 to 2018. Phase one would include fast-tracking solar PV installations on “open HECO circuits”, which is covers approximately 30 schools. It was also noted that even though the DOE has over 44 million square feet of learning space, not every single square foot would need to be air conditioned.

Among other initiatives, Hawaii’s Natural Energy Institute is working to develop a facility assessment protocol to guide the design of comfortable learning environments with reduced energy consumption, using James Campbell High School complex as a test site.

SB2424 will be heard by the House Committee on Education on Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. in conference room 309.


*Senate Webcast Archive Pilot –

Statement from Senator Mike Gabbard on the Joint Senate-House Informational Briefing on Fuel Leaks at U.S. Navy Fuel Storage Facility

“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 Senate Committee on Energy and Environment


Senate and House Lawmakers Schedule Briefing on Navy Fuel Leak

gabbard 2013Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, today announced that Hawaii 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 Hawaii State Capitol in Room 329. 

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

(Senators Mike Gabbard and Suzanne Chun Oakland join Governor Neil Abercrombie for the signing of Senate Bill 19 and other energy related measures.) (L-R: Sen. Mike Gabbard, Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, Rep. Angus McKelvey, PUC Chair Hermina Morita.)

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

Honolulu- 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.”

Governor Enacts Measure to Promote Hawaii’s Clean Energy Goals

Honolulu- Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law today a measure aimed at helping the State of Hawaii achieve its clean energy goals by establishing a green infrastructure financing program.

Senate Bill 1087 provides a lower cost financing alternative for Hawaii businesses and residents to utilize green infrastructure equipment and technology to reduce electricity consumption by leveraging clean energy technology.

Building Hawaii’s clean energy infrastructure at a rate which is affordable for consumers is an essential component in advancing the State’s clean energy initiatives,” said Senator Donovan M. Dela Cruz, who chairs the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Government Operations and Housing.  “We needed to find ways for all of Hawaii’s consumers to benefit from affordable and clean energy options to gain relief from high monthly electric bills. This program establishes an alternative financing method that will ultimately pass savings onto the consumer by providing low-cost financing to enable the installation of green infrastructure equipment. It brings accessible and affordable energy options to all of Hawaii’s individuals, working families, and small businesses.  This is about reducing the cost of living and improving quality of life right here at home.”

The innovative financing method created in this measure will provide a secure financing structure to allow the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism to issue revenue bonds at very competitive rates, which these savings can be passed on to the consumers in the form of lower borrowing costs.

Senate Spotlight: Featuring Senator Mike Gabbard

Senator Mike Gabbard (Senate District 20- Kapolei, Makakilo, Portions of Ewa, Kalaeloa and Waipahu) talks about his goals for the 2013 Legislative Session. Looking ahead to the State’s future, Senator Gabbard reflects on 2012 as he discusses some of the major changes for the State of Hawaii. Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, Senator Gabbard touches on several of his priorities, including: continuing support of initiatives that promote clean renewable energies, improving the solar tax credit, and protecting the land and ocean.

To view video:

Sen. Gabbard Honors Super Green Champions and Winner of the Capital 10 Energy Challenge

Honolulu –  Senator Mike Gabbard (West Oahu), Chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, will honor 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.

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).



Senate Energy & Environment Committee to Hold Informational Briefing on Threat of Invasive Species

HONOLULU – 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:

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