Talking Story with Sen. Mike Gabbard


Working Toward Hawaii’s Sustainable Future

Aloha e friends,

The 2015 legislative session ended May 7. This was my seventh session as chairman of the Energy and Environment Committee, and it was a banner year for clean energy legislation!

There was a shakeup in Senate Leadership at the end of session. Sen. Ron Kouchi of Kauai replaced Sen. Donna Mercado Kim as Senate president.

I am now chairman of the newly created Water, Land and Agriculture Committee, and I look forward to this new challenge that will allow me to continue my work on the future sustainability of our islands.

Key Energy and Environment Legislation

Here are short summaries of key Energy and Environment bills that I championed this session:

• HB 623 — requires the state to get 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045. (In 2008, we were at 9 percent; currently we are at 21 percent).

This is a first in national law and makes us the most populated set of islands in the world with an independent grid to establish this goal.

• SB 1050 — requires our electric utilities to comply with the Public Utilities Commission by Oct. 1 to establish a community-based renewables program.

This will allow people to hui up, find a piece of land and purchase or lease however many PV panels they want, and then get a credit on their electricity bill for the energy they produce.

This will benefit our renters and those without roof space because they too now can lower their electricity bills and do something good for our environment.

• SB 349 — establishes a tax credit of up to $3 million per year through 2020 for the production of renewable fuels, such as methanol, ethanol, hydrogen, biodiesel and biogas, at a local facility. These renewable fuels can be made from feedstocks such as algae, jatropha, palm oil, solid waste and used cooking oil.

• SB 717 — repeals the existing law that requires gasoline sold in the state to include 10 percent ethanol.

This makes sense given that we are importing 45 million gallons of ethanol from the Mainland each year, which doesn’t benefit our economy.

• HB 1150 — establishes a tax credit of up to $10,000, so people with cesspools can upgrade to a septic system. This is a good idea because our state has close to 90,000 cesspools, which have a negative impact on our environment.

Construction Funding for Senate District 20

There was $90,445,000 in construction funding included in the 2015-2017 state budget for Senate District 20. Here’s the breakdown:

• University of Hawaii- West Oahu (administration and Allied Health Facility): $24 million

• H-1 Makakilo to Palailai interchange (improvements): $7 million

• Kapolei Middle School (new bus lanes and dropoff): $1.8 million

• Kapolei Middle School (additional parking): $100,000

• Makakilo Elementary School (ADA compliance): $1.045 million

• Kalaeloa Barbers Point Harbor (fuel pier improvements): $54 million

• Kapolei Community Development Corporation (grant-in-aid for heritage center): $500,000

• National Kidney Foundation (grant-in-aid for program development center): $2 million.

Next Listen-Story Meeting

My next Listen-Story meeting will be at Ewa Mahiko District Park Meeting Room from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday, June 20.

Contact Sen. Mike Gabbard (District 20 — Kapolei, Makakilo and portions of Ewa, Kalaeloa and Waipahu) at 586-6830 or by email at sengabbard@