Aloha mai kakou. Aloha.
I believe that Hawai`i is on the path to a clean energy future, and I am committed to a long-term vision of making Hawai`i the greenest place on Earth – the greenest environment, the greenest energy, and the greenest economy – in a way that keeps down our cost of living, increases our quality of life and, of course, includes all of our citizens.
To achieve our clean energy future, we need to change the way we think about energy.
And for me, that means our ultimate goal is for us to become a low-carbon state, where we are once-and-for-all free from our dependence on the volatile foreign fossil fuel market; where our electricity and transportation fuel are homegrown, renewable and secure; where our economy is based on knowledge and innovation; and our people are given the opportunity to control their energy future.
My vision is to transform Hawai`i from the most oil dependent state in the nation into a worldwide leader in clean energy security and sustainability.
Seventy-five percent of our electricity comes from 12 million barrels of oil a year.
For every million barrels of oil that we save, we keep a quarter of a billion dollars of capital investment in our local economy that creates hundreds of jobs.
That makes economic and environmental sense, and the good news is that we are already underway.
I can state for a fact – an undisputed fact – that after more than 30 years of talking about energy security, this Administration took action to make real progress toward an energy-secure and self-sufficient future.
We have led by example and taken a collaborative, bipartisan approach to fundamentally change the way we use energy.
The Hawai`i Clean Energy Initiative, also known as HCEI, was a groundbreaking and innovative partnership we formed in 2008 with the U.S. Department of Energy to generate 70 percent or more of our energy through energy efficiency and such clean, renewable resources as wind, solar, ocean, bioenergy and geothermal.
Several important milestones in a number of key areas have been reached that form the foundation upon which HCEI’s ambitious goals will be achieved.
We have put into place the policy and regulatory framework to facilitate the development and growth of Hawai`i’s clean energy.
Over the last five years, the Administration and State Legislature have worked collaboratively to pass 19 landmark clean energy bills into law, including a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard and an Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, both of which are among the most progressive in the nation.
More than 30 dockets are active before the Public Utilities Commission related to clean energy development, and that includes establishment of feed-in tariffs and decoupling for the Hawaiian Electric Companies.
As a result of this framework, the private sector has responded with proposing more than 100 renewable energy projects involving billions of dollars of private investment.
This includes the historic Energy Agreement we signed with HECO in 2008, committing the utility to integrating more than 1,100 megawatts of utility-scale renewables by 2030, along with approximately 660 megawatts of customer-sited photovoltaics and other customer-sited generation and efficiency measures into its power grid.
We have put significant opportunities in place for Hawai`i’s residents and businesses to take control of their energy costs.
One promising initiative is the innovative Property Assessed Clean Energy program, also known as PACE, which would defray the upfront costs for homeowners and businesses to install renewable energy and energy efficient systems on their property.
These upfront costs have been a major barrier to expanding energy efficiency statewide.
PACE would also increase competition, lower electricity bills for consumers and create green jobs for our local economy.
And I want you to know that although it was a little sidetracked, our energy division is currently working with the Obama Administration to structure PACE and other financial programs in a way that works for both consumers and lending institutions.
If given the privilege of serving as your next Governor, we will continue to push forward with the PACE program and other innovative financial mechanisms that will help to keep intact the Hawai`i Clean Energy Initiative and aggressively pursue our clean energy future.
Hawai’i already leads the nation in solar water heating, and with the ramping-up of photovoltaic installations on public and private facilities, we now rank third in the nation in per-capita photovoltaic generation.
Hawai’i’s residents are also becoming more energy efficient, using 8 percent less energy per-capita in 2008 than they did in 2007, which marked the sharpest decline in recent years.
And it would be to our advantage if all of our residents were aware of the fact that as per-capita energy use drops steadily, we – as a state – would be spending less on energy per dollar of gross state product, thus leaving more to be invested locally by both residents and businesses.
HCEI is the impetus behind the Administration’s Lead by Example initiative, and as a result of this initiative, electricity consumption in the executive branch of state government decreased by nearly 6 percent from 2008 to 2009, saving an estimated $10 million a year in general funds.
The State Department of Accounting and General Services has also entered into energy savings performance contracts for 11 downtown state offices, which will reduce electric bills by 30 percent – a savings of approximately $3.2 million per year in operational expenses.
Through HCEI and future policy initiatives developed and promoted by our State Energy Office, I will continue to support cutting-edge clean energy technologies and processes that would promote and implement the innovative use and study of biomass resources, such as we’re currently doing with biofuels generation of algae, the analysis, planning and implementation of projects that would upgrade and modernize the transmission and distribution of electricity and lay the foundation of the development and adoption of smart grids
Our abundance of clean renewable sources of energy, such as geothermal, ocean and wind, is handicapped by their specific island locations. As such a foundational component of achieving HCEI’s objectives is the planning, development and construction of the proposed undersea cable in the Moloka`i channel. The awarding of the EIS study is imminent and I am committed to completing this project.
HCEI and recent legislation has also spurred interest and investment in electric vehicles and their attendant infrastructure.
As such, we have seen the opening of the state’s first public electric vehicle charging station this past January; the mandate for designated parking stalls and charging stations in parking lots; a generous state rebate for the purchase of an electric vehicle; and, in light of HCEI, Nissan has chosen Hawai`i as its launching site for its first electric vehicle, while a Korean company has committed to building an electric vehicle assembly plant on the island of O`ahu.
As a result of HCEI, administrative policies and initiatives and regulatory framework, significant attention has been drawn to Hawai`i as a model that other states in our nation and other countries in our region can follow.
The nation and world are getting the message that Hawai`i is the place to do clean energy business.
I am committed to continuing Hawai`i on the path of specific and real progress toward energy security and self-sufficiency.
Through service as your Lieutenant Governor for the last seven plus years, I have been able to get a first-hand look at the innovation and ingenuity of our citizens across the state.
I’ve been listening to small businesses and clean energy advocates, and they say the most important thing we can do is to stay the course with the Hawai`i Clean Energy Initiative.
Businesses map out their plans for years, and the last thing we need is to unnecessarily create uncertainty in the market.
I will do everything I can to bring about a clean energy future.
And together, we will drive alternative fuels into our economy, integrate agriculture and energy, move forward with Big Wind, expand access to solar, promote net-zero communities, put efficiency first, create green jobs, attract private investment, and keep intact our vision of making Hawai`i the greenest place on Earth.
Mahalo for your time.