Lingle’s partnership with feds would tap clean fuel
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Hawaii and the U.S. Department of Energy are planning a first-of-its-kind partnership to accelerate the development of renewable energy sources such as wind, wave and solar power abundant in the islands.
Gov. Linda Lingle announced the "unprecedented and innovative" partnership, known as the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, in her State of the State address yesterday.
"This partnership is based on the vision that Hawaii must accelerate its transformation to a clean energy future by tapping into the latest national and global advancements, and that our abundant natural sources of energy position us to be a model for the world to show what can be accomplished by developing indigenous renewable energy," Lingle said. "This partnership will bring both technical assistance and project funding to Hawaii."
Lawmakers two years ago passed a package of bills aimed at decreasing Hawaii's dependence on imported oil through conservation and development of clean energy sources.
Lingle touched on some of those efforts in her speech, notably a project to develop solar power systems at 12 government sites statewide.
The push to develop alternate energy sources is in line with what majority Democrats have included in their goals for the 2008 session.
"We recognize, as elected officials, that if we're going to preserve the quality of life in Hawaii the state needs to do more to promote energy independence and greater utilization and development of renewable energy sources," said Senate Energy Chairman Ron Menor (D, Mililani-Waipio). "I think the governor's proposals are positive and I look forward to working together with her in the near future."
With the growing importance on developing cleaner fuels, Lingle also announced the establishment of an Energy Division within the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
Energy policy issues had always been assigned to the department before, said Director Ted Liu, but now, "We're elevating the importance of our energy program."
Liu said his agency has been working on the Clean Energy Initiative with the U.S. Energy Department for about six months.
"They think that we can be the first economy in the world totally based on clean renewable energy, and we can do it in one generation," Liu said. "They want to be here with us.
"The (Energy Department) thinks that if the country, the nation, is as serious as everybody says they are about moving toward a more renewable future, that Hawaii is the place where it can happen first."