City energy costs climb 44 percent, audit finds
Electricity costs for the city "soared" despite minimal increases in usage, according to an audit released yesterday.
Between fiscal 2002 and 2006, electricity consumption increased by 5.7 percent, but spending increased by 44 percent, because of higher rates.
"Electricity conservation efforts either increased or stayed the same during the same time period," stated the report, released by the Office of the City Auditor. "However, the conservation efforts did not appear to offset rising costs."
The audit also said city agencies are generally unable to verify whether consumption or cost goals are being met.
"Because responsibility for electricity costs, consumption and conservation are dispersed among several city agencies, the city lacks a comprehensive framework to effectively manage electricity cost and consumption," the report stated.
It cited other cities with centralized energy policy and leadership, like Portland, Ore.; Philadelphia; and Berkeley, Calif.
"In contrast, we found that for Honolulu, no one city agency is responsible for managing electricity costs and consumption," the report said. "As a result, citywide data for effective analysis of electricity management is lacking."
The audit did praise the city Department of Budget and Fiscal Services for issuing electricity budgeting guidelines to all city agencies last year to help establish more accurate budgets.
The audit recommended that the city compile data and produce an annual report on the city's electricity cost and use. It also suggested implementing best-practice methods like reporting electricity management results, training and funding electricity audits.
It also said the city should consider energy management duties under a single entity.
City Councilman Charles Djou said the audit supports his argument that the city's elimination of an energy czar job was a mistake. The position was last held by former Councilman Steve Holmes under former Mayor Jeremy Harris.
"In a time of ever-increasing energy costs, the city should designate one person responsible for all municipal energy usage and constantly investigate methods of reducing energy costs," Djou said.