State initiates energy project
Gov. Linda Lingle has signed into law a bill that will launch a pilot project to start putting solar panels on schools and to make state agencies -- including their buildings and cars -- more energy-efficient.
The bill-signing ceremony at the Capitol last week was the first of four held throughout the islands in the coming weeks to commemorate the signing of legislation aimed at freeing Hawaii of its dependence on imported fossil fuels such as coal and oil.
The package of bills, supported by both the Republican governor and Democrats, launches Hawaii on a long path toward being less dependent on foreign oil and less susceptible to political instability in oil-producing countries, said Ted Liu, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
The bill signed by the governor Friday:
» Includes $5 million to begin a pilot program to put solar panels on at least one public school on Oahu, the Big Island, Kauai and Maui.
» Updates the state's policies on promoting fuel efficiency within its state agencies, particularly for new buildings and vehicle purchases.
» Includes $500,000 for DBEDT to tackle energy efficiency initiatives for state facilities and equipment, plus $130,000 to hire two full-time coordinators for the project.
» Includes $65,000 to hire a full-time staffer to coordinate energy efficiency at Department of Education facilities.