Category Archives: Energy and Climate

Environmental Caucus of the Democratic Party – In the news

The Solar Industry vs. HECO – Not So Hostile
Flickr: US Army Environmental Command

It wasn’t a boxing match. But representatives from Hawaiian Electric Co. and the solar industry presented opposing visions of Hawaii’s clean energy future Monday at a meeting sponsored by the Environmental Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

From U.S. Energy Department – New SunShot Initiative

Unleashing Rooftop Solar Energy through More Efficient Government
From website Submitted by Ramamoorthy Ramesh on June 1, 2011 – 11:45am
Across the country, the race is on to drive down the cost of solar energy. And a new challenge through the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative could help slash the costs even faster.

We are challenging cities and counties to compete nationwide to cut the red tape that can push up the price tags on solar energy projects.

One of the highest hurdles for would-be investors in residential and small commercial solar energy installations is navigating the differing and expensive administrative processes required to get their solar panels from the drawing board to the rooftop.
Today the Department of Energy announced a new challenge in which teams of local and regional governments compete for funds to help bring down administrative barriers to residential and small commercial photovoltaic (PV) solar installations by streamlining, standardizing and digitizing their administrative processes. The Rooftop Solar Challenge will also spur participating cities and states across the nation to enable innovative financing programs to help homeowners and entrepreneurs install solar energy systems on their homes and businesses.

Up to 40 percent of the total cost of a solar energy system is the result of balance of system costs, which include the capital required to pay for siting, permitting, and installing a solar energy project and connecting it to the grid.

By challenging local governments to cut their upfront fees and paperwork and standardize their permitting processes, the Challenge will not only reduce the cost to homeowners and businesses of installing solar energy systems, but it will also save money and time for local governments already struggling with tight budgets.

Using the Administration’s “Race to the Top” model, the Rooftop Solar Challenge incentivizes local governments to find new ways to tackle old problems and use the best of those innovative solutions as models for other regions. To participate, cities and counties will build teams with other local governments in their state or region, as well as with other critical stakeholders such as their local utility and their state energy office, to develop a step-by-step plan for how they will meet the goals laid out in the Challenge.

The Rooftop Solar Challenge will encourage participating government teams to compete in four critical areas: standardizing permit processes, updating planning and zoning codes, improving standards for connecting to the grid and increasing access to financing. Each team must submit data, including information about their current permitting and grid interconnection processes to establish the baseline against which to measure the progress they make during the year of the Challenge.

The Rooftop Solar Challenge will make it easier for investors to capitalize on all of the benefits of solar energy technologies, support jobs for solar installers, create new opportunities for small solar companies across the country and help the U.S. remain a top competitor in this key renewable energy market.

The Rooftop Solar Challenge will be funded with $12.5 million as part of the SunShot Initiative, which aims to make solar energy cost-competitive with traditional forms of electricity by reducing the total installed cost of solar energy systems by 75 percent before decade’s end.

For more information and to follow the progress of the Initiative, visit the SunShot Initiative site.

Ramamoorthy Ramesh is the Director of the SunShot Initiative and Solar Energy Technologies Program

Posted by Lisa Hinano Rey

UH Manoa: ” students, staff, and faculty would, if they felt safer, commute to campus by bicycle”

Campus supports alternative transportation options
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Original Post by:
Ann Sakuma
Asst to the VC for Admin, Fin & Oper, Chancellor’s Office
Posted: May. 27, 2011

In light of recent and upcoming improvements and resurfacing of surrounding streets, the University of Hawaii at Manoa has shared the following statement today with the city Department of Transportation Services.

“UH Manoa is committed to supporting alternative modes of transportation in our island state to address the compounding problems related to both pollution and congestion and to promote sustainable means of travel. The campus has begun work on a comprehensive transportation demand management plan that seeks to shift the commuter mode split, hoping to increase the number of pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and carpoolers accessing the campus and surrounding community.

“A recent geographic analysis suggests that more than 26 percent of the student, staff, and faculty population live within one (1) mile of the main campus boundaries. Additionally, our recent transportation survey of the campus community found an alarming number of students, staff, and faculty who would, if they felt safer, commute to campus by bicycle. Thus, the street network directly around the campus is critical to ensuring safe travel for bicyclists and pedestrians. We believe significant benefits could be realized through a street design that includes bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in and around the university and surrounding communities. Making these types of improvements will help impact commuting behavior by increasing the attractiveness of bicycle and other environmentally friendly forms of travel.

“As we continue to strive to be an environmentally responsible university, we greatly appreciate the continued support and mutual collaboration as the department reviews infrastructural improvement options in our neighboring communities. Please contact us if we can be of any assistance moving sustainable transportation initiatives forward. Mahalo nui loa.”

Action Alert by Lisa Hinano Rey

Aloha Members,
Henry Curtis, Life of the Land requests that we inform our members about the following upcoming hearing Tuesday, 4/5/11 Room 308 at 2:00 pm by Finance
on SB 367 – Energy; Interisland High Voltage Electric Transmission Cable System; Public Utilities Commission; Tax Exemptions.

Henry Curtis has the following to say about this legislation: Oppose this legislation at: PLEASE OPPOSE THIS BILL!!

“SB 367 SD3 HD1would create a PUC regulatory structure for undersea cables whereby ratepayers would carry all of the risk and the utility would make all of the profit.
* The utility argument was that it had to happen this year so that a cable company could be chosen this fall.
However, which islands will get proposed windfarms and which size the undersea cables need to be has hit a snag.
Last year the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) ruled that both FirstWind (Moloka`i) and Castle & Cooke (Lana`i) had to file with the PUC by March 18, 2011  term sheets laying out the cost of wind energy.
FirstWind defaulted and did not file a timely excuse. Almost 2 weeks late, FirstWind asked for an 8 month extension.
* The argument that Big Wind is the only answer is also in dispute. The Big Wind EIS Preparation Notice said that there are two alternatives, Big Wind with planning and Big Wind without planning.
Numerous comments to the EISPN challenged this.
DBEDT Office of Planning (March 1, 2011): “it is necessary for the draft EIS to explore alternatives”
US Environmental Protection Agency (Feb 28, 2011): “We recommend analysis of additional alternatives as early as possible” 
Rather than rush thru a bad piece of legislation, we should wait until it has been determined whether Big Wind makes sense, and if so, under what conditions.
Please hold SB 367

Posted by Lisa Hinano Rey
Energy and Climate Change Chair
Environmental Caucus of the Democratic Party

Public Decision on Intra-Inter Govt. Energy Wheeling

The committee(s) on CPN will hold a public decision making on 02-24-11 11:00AM in conference room 229.

Governmental Wheeling; Inter and Intra; Public Utilities; Transmission and Distribution Fee

Requires the public utilities commission to adopt rules and issue orders relating to intra-governmental wheeling and inter-governmental wheeling that enable renewable energy producers operating on public lands to sell electricity directly to governmental entities located on the same island. Authorizes public utilities to charge a transmission and distribution fee for both intra-governmental wheeling and inter-governmental wheeling. (SD1)

Climate Change Task Force May Survive

Two committees have recommended that SB 80 be passed but recommendations are still needed in three committees. The bill would extend the life of the task force to 06/30/2013.

2/15/2011 The committee(s) on WLH recommend(s) that the measure be PASSED, WITH AMENDMENTS.

2/15/2011 The committee(s) on ENE recommend(s) that the measure be PASSED, WITH AMENDMENTS.

2/16/2011 Re-Referred to ENE/WLH/PGM, TSM/WAM.

Posted by Lisa Hinano Rey
Subcommittee Chair on Energy and Climate

Energy and Climate in the News

3D Solar Cells Could Be Here Next Year

Friday, 28 January 2011–The 3D solar Cell technology is still in its infancy and it might take another year or two before it goes commercial and gains prominence. Patented by Solar3D, the technology promises to make photovoltaic cells that are far more efficient and cost effective than the traditional ones that we are now using. The plan from Solar3D at this point is to create a prototype for public display by the end of 2011.

Jim Nelson, CEO of Solar3D, has announced that their developmental project for the 3D solar cells is running well ahead of its schedule and with the technology having been patented by their company a couple of months back, the next step is to create a prototype that will fit the commercial billing.

3D Solar Cells supposedly use a technology that facilitates micro-photovoltaic structure to trap sunlight and then bounce the photons around to generate more energy than the models that are currently on offer. We are obviously thinking this is akin to trapping light inside a prism and creating multiple reflections, but that is only based on our best guess of how the technology seems to work.
Solar panels built from such cells will not only be more energy efficient but apparently will also cost a lot less. Well, all we can say is that we are anxiously waiting for the first 3D Solar Cell to be out. There is so much solar energy out there, clean and abundant, waiting to be tapped into!

Posted by Lisa Hinano Rey

Chair, Energy and Climate Subcommittee


Aloha Members of the Environmental Caucus of Hawai’i, As we enter this important next stage of our advocacy, the Steering Committee felt the need to set a testimony policy for those appearing on behalf of the Caucus. While individual members … Continue reading

Energy and Climate Action Alert

Once again time is of the essence!!  This coming Tuesday Feb. 1, 2011 testimony will be heard on  a bill relating to Alternative Energy Wheeling.  I will be submitting testimony by email and cannot be there personally on Tuesday.  Anyone who is interested in making official appearance as designee, please let me know by e-mailing me at

Lisa Hinano Rey

Chair, Energy and Climate Subcommittee

The committee(s) on ENE has scheduled a public hearing on 02-01-11 3:30PM in conference room 225.

Report Title: Governmental Wheeling; Inter and Intra; Public Utilities; Transmission and Distribution Fee
Description: Requires the public utilities commission to adopt rules and issue orders relating to intra-governmental wheeling and inter-governmental wheeling that enable renewable energy producers operating on public lands to sell electricity directly to governmental entities located on the same island. Authorizes public utilities to charge a transmission and distribution fee for both intra-governmental wheeling and inter-governmental wheeling.

Energy and Climate Subcommitee Informational Link

One of our favorite priorities and part of our multifaceted energy conservation solution was to reduce automobile use for short trips by developing specific procedures for implementing Complete Streets legislation.

Below is a summary of the bill introduced into the Senate which tackles the problem of funding for the complete streets project enacted in 2009.

Follow the progress of this bill at :

State of Hawaii Senate bill number 829, Twenty-sixth legislature, 2011



The legislature finds that most of the senseless bicycle injuries and deaths on Hawai‘i roadways are preventable.  Roadway fatalities continue to be a major concern for our State.  Act 54, Session Laws of Hawaii 2009, requires the department of transportation and county transportation departments to adopt complete streets policies that seek to reasonably accommodate convenient access and mobility for all users of the public highways within their respective jurisdictions, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, motorists, and persons of all ages and abilities.  Biking is a viable transportation option that also improves health and quality of life.

The legislature further finds that the depressed economy has substantially stalled the State’s ability to move forward on many of the projects that have been planned.  Consequently, new avenues of funding are being explored.

The purpose of this Act is to establish an annual bicycle and moped registration renewal fee to augment the moneys in the bikeway fund under section 249-17.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes.

Posted Lisa Rey: Chair of Energy and Climate Subcommittee