The state needs decisive action on clean energy, then-candidate Neil Abercrombie said during last year’s gubernatorial campaign.
But lawmakers must not have heard him. The 2011 legislative session saw only incremental progress on major initiatives, and Hawaii remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels.
Thursday was sine die — the last day of work for the Hawaii Legislature. We now know the fates of dozens of energy bills that were introduced in January — many died, and others passed only after extensive amendments.
Of the measures that did make it to the governor’s desk, some started out as bold initiatives but were reduced to mere studies. They might represent the first steps toward Hawaii’s green energy future, but they’re not giant leaps forward.
Other ambitious proposals — a mileage tax and direct distribution of renewable energy, to name two — fell flat and won’t even be studied.
House Bill 1520. It instructs the state to investigate allowing people to pay to install clean energy technology through their monthly power bills. The original version of the bill would have established the program rather than investigating it.
Senate Bill 181. It will study the feasibility of requiring all new single-family homes to incorporate design elements and minimum equipment installation to facilitate the future adoption of a photovoltaic system. The original version of the bill would have implemented the requirement rather than studying it.
Senate Bill 1482. It will allow the Public Utilities Commission to consider the benefits of capital improvements for renewable energy and energy efficiency despite the short-term expense and require the PUC to consider the need to reduce the state’s reliance on fossil fuels.
What Didn’t Make It
House Bill 7. It would have enabled renewable energy producers to sell electricity directly to end-use customers, a system known as “wheeling.”
House Bill 566. It would have created a sunset on the renewable energy tax credit and delayed payouts of those credits.