Notes On Our Community’s Clean Energy Future

Talking Story…Sen. Mike Gabbard

Aloha e Friends, Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and your ohana! Hope you’re taking the time to kick back and relax with your family and friends. Our 2015 Legislative Session begins Jan. 21.


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Sen. Gabbard presented honorary certificates to winners of the ‘Live and Let Live' safe-driving contest Nov. 15 at HPD in Kapolei. Pictured are (from left) Kaitapu Pulesala (Nanakuli High, third place), Jazmin Balacy (Campbell High, first place), Gabbard and Jamie Valdez (Kapolei High, second place).

This will be my seventh session as chairman of the Energy and Environment Committee. I’ll also continue as a member of the Judiciary and Labor Committee. My new committee assignments will be the Health, and Higher Education and the Arts committees.

As always, please contact me at 586-6830 or if I can help you or your family in any way.

Community-based Solar Key to Our Clean Energy Future

I’ll be reintroducing a bill to establish a community-based solar program, which would direct the electric utilities to develop a community-based renewable energy contract for their customers. Last session, I introduced SB 2934.

While close to the finish line, unfortunately, the bill didn’t make it.

This legislation would have allowed utility customers, such as homeowners, renters, businesses, and nonprofits, to collectively own or lease a solar array where they generate electricity, and in return they would get a credit on their electricity bill. These projects make it easier for the utilities to interconnect to the grid, and they allow anyone to more easily benefit from solar power.

This is great for folks in condos who don’t have adequate roof space, or people who have shaded roofs or who live on saturated circuits. You may know that UH Manoa is facing a deficit of more than $30 million. Community solar is a viable option that they are now looking at to greatly reduce their electricity costs. This community solar then also coupled with the likes of deregulation within some energy markets, such as the Power to Choose Houston provides, allowing Houston residents to shop for cheaper energy rates, can further improve financial savings on their electricity costs. Having something similar in Hawaii could greatly benefit homeowners and business owners alike when wanting to decrease their expenditure on electricity bills.

An added plus: In a community solar program, PV panels are installed at an off-site location that could be many miles from where a person lives.

One example of this program in action is an 858kW system near the Garfield County Airport in Rifle, Colo. – where 3,575 panels are owned by Jimmy’s Pizza, Montessori School, and various families and individuals.

Listen Story Meeting

My next “Listen Story” meeting will be held from 9 to 10 a.m. Jan. 24 at Ewa Mahiko District Park meeting room.