Renewable energy plan needs bipartisan effort
Governor Lingle and legislators are making increased use of renewable energy resources among their priorities.
GOVERNOR Lingle and the Legislature agreed last year on goals to reduce the state's use of fossil fuel and appear to be focused again on increasing the use of renewable resources
. They seem to agree on many of those issues in the current legislative session and should cooperate in fashioning a plan to achieve those important goals.
Only a year after setting benchmarks over a 15-year period, Hawaii's utility companies are off to a mediocre start. A bill enacted by the Legislature and signed by Lingle required the companies to use renewable resources to provide 20 percent of their electricity sales by 2020. Renewable energy accounts for only 5 percent, lagging behind the 8 percent goal set for the end of 2005.
Kyle Datta, senior director of research and consulting at the Rocky Mountain Institute, says the state has "a foundation of some good policies, but some need fixing ... some need extension ... and some just simply haven't been done."
The Energy Policy Forum, comprised of about 40 representatives from the private and public sectors, has proposed a 10-point plan for increasing Hawaii's renewable energy standards. It includes promoting energy efficiency in public buildings, supporting research and development of alternative fuels and biofuels, and providing incentives for consumers to use renewable energy in homes and energy-efficient appliances and vehicles.
Lingle is proposing similar measures along with initiating development of the state's renewable energy resources, including hydrogen-rich liquid or gaseous fuels. She is asking the Legislature to approve numerous changes in state laws to provide for development of various energy projects.
She also is asking lawmakers to repeal the law capping gasoline prices based on mainland levels. The Legislature appears unwilling to do so, but that should not derail cooperation in other areas.
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