Energy News

Jul 21

The State Energy Office has released their most recent ranking of current clean energy projects that are leading the way in Hawaii's transition away from fossil fuels. As stated on their website: "Energy leaders have been identified based on public information about (a) their projected size, (b) status of permitting, (c) status of power or fuel off-take agreement, and (d) site control. Pertinent data comes from a variety of media including company press releases, company websites, newspaper articles, Internet publications, agency notices, and filings with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission." Here are the Top 10:

1. Honolulu Airport Emergency Power Facility / State Department of Transportation, HECO

2. Green Energy Agricultural Biomass-to-Energy Facility / Green Energy Team, LLC

3. Honua Power Project  / Honua Technologies

4. Hu Honua Bioenergy Facility / Hu Honua Bioenergy, LLC

5. Hawaii BioEnergy Integrated Biorefinery Facility / Hawaii BioEnergy

6. Anahola Solar / Homestead Community Development Corporation, REC Solar, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative

7. Koloa (KRS2) Solar Project / Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, Grove Farm, SolarCity

8. IC Sunshine Solar Project / IC Sunshine, SunEdison, Axio

9. AKP Kau Renewable Fuel Facility / Aina Koa Pono

10. Schofield Generating Station Project / Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc.

There's also a directory where you can search through renewable energy projects in progress.

May 30

Applications open June 1

Our friends at Energy Excelerator will begin accepting applications for their 2015 cohort on June 1. They're looking for 14 startups—8 seed-stage (each will receive $75,000) and 6 growth-stage (each will receive up to $1 million, to be matched by private funding).

Who should apply? Startups with scalable solutions for:

A. Energy systems integration: Technologies and business models that promote systems thinking and advance clean energy across the whole system. These solutions can impact Hawaii and the Asia Pacific in four key areas - grid, transportation, agriculture, and water.

B. Energy systems resilience: Technologies and business models that build security and flexibility into our island systems. This includes both near-term physical security and long-term economic security.

Learn more at their upcoming info session at the M Nightclub on June 11 at 6pm or visit

May 05

HECO just announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) for one or more utility-scale energy storage systems capable of storing 60 to 200 MW for up to 30 minutes. Storage solutions can help integrate variable sources of renewable power like solar and wind by instantly responding to fluctuations in supply.  HECO is considering best available technologies, including batteries, mechanical flywheels, capacitors, compressed gas, and pumped hydro. The goal is to have the storage system(s) in place in 2017.

Read more here.



Nov 05

News round-up:

PBN: Hawaiian Electric seeks OK for 6 more renewable energy projects

Star-Advertiser op-ed by Alex Tiller of Sunetric: Solar gardens aim to offer PV for all

Star-Advertiser Letter to the Editor from Sen. Mike Gabbard: Bill would help cut electric costs


Integrated Resource Planning - Docket 2012-0036

Nov. 4: Zilkha Biomass submits comments stating that "Zilkha can provide a less expensive fuel than the options discussed in the IRP at a lower overall capital cost."

Sep 13

Jeff's blog on Huffington Post:

"If the development of our indigenous energy resources proceeds expeditiously, the potential exists for Hawai'i to become self-sufficient in terms of our electrical energy and highway transportation fuel needs in the next 20 to 30 years..."

These words accompanied a 1977 plan for Hawai'i's energy independence by the year 2010. The plan--developed for the state senate by more than 100 Hawai'i experts--reminds us how elusive the goal of weaning Hawai'i from imported oil has been.

Not anymore. With a combination of smart policy, committed residents, and breakthrough technologies, Hawai'i is beginning to realize its potential for energy independence. The Hawaiian Electric Companies recently announced that they achieved almost 18% renewable energy for O'ahu, Maui, and Hawai'i Island in the first half of 2013--exceeding the 2015 requirement two years ahead of schedule. That's exciting progress.

Here are four current bright spots helping to drive Hawai'i's clean energy transformation:

You've seen the ads (BJ Penn?), you've heard from the neighbors, or maybe you've already bought--solar is everywhere. Tens of thousands of Hawai'i households have taken control of their energy costs by putting a personal power plant on their roof. The growth is staggering, with as much solar photovoltaic installed in 2012 as nearly all of the previous years combined. Growth has leveled somewhat due to unfortunate changes in how the state tax credit is administered, but competition, decreases in equipment costs, and new financing tools make solar more affordable than ever. Hawai'i also continues to lead the nation in solar water heaters per capita. What's more, thousands of residents work in the solar industry. Putting the sun to work means we exchange purchases of imported fossil fuel for local paychecks.

What's next? Community-based renewable energy, such as shared "solar gardens," to allow more residents (especially renters and apartment dwellers) to pa

rticipate in the benefits of solar.


Energy efficiency--the yin to solar's yang--is the cleanest, cheapest, largest, and fastest new energy source in Hawai'i. New energy source? Yes, energy savings from efficiency improvements (think LED bulbs, ENERGY STAR appliances, behavior changes) actually eclipsed the amount of new renewable energy installed in Hawai'i last year. Hawaii Energy--the efficiency "utility" for the Hawaiian Electric territory--offers sizable rebates for solar water, lighting, and high efficiency appliances. They also have aggressive programs to help commercial ratepayers cut their energy bills.

What's next? Demand response, or the ability to use communication technology to better manage power demand, can decrease energy use while enabling more clean energy. Non-essential uses of electricity can be momentarily dialed back by the utility, helping to match renewable energy supply with demand.

On-Bill Financing
Solar and efficiency are great, but both usually require upfront investment before the savings pile up. On-bill financing changes that. This new program will allow residences and businesses--including renters--to install energy efficiency improvements such as solar water heaters and pay for them using their energy bill savings. What's more, the governor enacted an innovative policy this year to secure low-cost capital from the private sector to help kick-start on-bill financing. Called "green energy market securitization (GEMS)," the program can provide attractive financing options to renters and low-income households that otherwise can't afford energy improvements.

What's next? Implementation of on-bill financing. The Public Utilities Commission established a working group that is currently hashing out program details for a scheduled start date in 2014. We need to make sure that the program lives up to its big potential, and is not whittled down to a "pilot."

Electric Vehicles
More than one-third of the oil we use in Hawai'i powers our cars and trucks--nearly half a billion gallons of gasoline and diesel annually. Fortunately, the rapid adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) promises to reduce this amount. Like solar, we are seeing a near doubling of the purchase of EVs annually. While we're not leading the globe in EV uptake (that badge likely goes to Norway, where over 3% of vehicles sold this year are electric), Hawai'i will have more than 2,000 registered EVs by the end of September. This number will continue to increase with a dozen new models hitting the market over the next year, expanding the range of options in price, size, and style. And that dreaded "range anxiety?" It's disappearing as battery capacity and performance rapidly improves, and Hawai'i leads the nation in the number of available charge spots per person. While most of the grid energy currently charging Hawai'i's EVs is fossil-based, EVs go further on a gallon of oil than the typical gasoline car. That's because they are more efficient, they capture the braking energy, and they don't waste gas idling. Plus, they become increasingly clean as more renewable energy is added to the grid.

What's next? Putting EVs to work as part of the larger clean energy ecosystem, storing energy and regulating fluctuations in variable renewable energy resources. This requires a smart grid, two-way inverters in the vehicles (to both charge and discharge batteries), and an intelligent networked system that seamlessly interacts with thousands of vehicles plugged into the grid.

These bright spots--the growth in solar, efficiency, and EVs, and the availability of new financing programs--are clearing our path to energy independence, and are drawing attention from communities elsewhere that are also transitioning to clean energy. As long as we don't fall into the same trap that slowed us down in 1977, we will continue to get closer to the day we no longer refer to it as alternative energy, and just call it energy.

Sep 06

News from our friends at The Energy Excelerator... who recently received $30 million from the US Navy to help fund clean tech start-ups!

The Energy Excelerator is a startup program dedicated to helping solve the world’s energy problems, starting in Hawaii. Hawaii has the best economic conditions for launching a clean energy company on the planet. We would like to invite to you apply for up to $1M of non-dilutive funding to bring your energy solution to Hawaii and the Asia Pacific.

Here’s how it works:
1.       Apply today until September 27 at
2.       Begin with a full-immersion week in Hawaii to kick off a 6-month program for seed-stage startups and a 12-month program for growth-stage startups. You do not have to relocate to Honolulu, but you will spend 2 to 6 weeks in Hawaii over the course of the program.
3.       Non-dilutive funding up to $1M cost-reimbursable grants to growth-stage companies for projects in Hawaii or the Asia Pacific and $30K to $100K in fixed-price grants to seed-stage startups to develop and execute their go-to-market strategies.   
4.       Work with a core group of experienced mentors to refine and execute your go-to-market strategy.


To find out more check out the applicant package and visit our website, Please get in touch with us if you have any questions: or on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
We know energy innovation requires an entire community and we would love for you to be a part of ours.
The Energy Excelerator team

The Energy Excelerator is a startup program dedicated to solving the world's energy problems starting in Hawaii. We help innovative companies succeed in Hawaii and the Asia-Pacific region with non-dilutive funding, strategic relationships, and a vibrant ecosystem. The Energy Excelerator is a program of the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research (PICHTR).

Nov 20

Cutting emissions 25% per facility in the next 8 years after probably a century of steady growth? Yeah, that's huge. That's our take on the state's proposed greenhouse gas rules, which will reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 by targeting Hawaii's biggest polluters. If you can make it to one of the public hearings to voice your support, absolutely do so.

Hawaii’s GHG Rules Update

This November marks an important time for Hawaii’s clean air and energy standards. Just this month, the Governor’s office approved a request to notify the public about the proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) rules that have been in motion since 2007. In the next month, four public hearing meetings for the GHG rules are scheduled throughout the islands. 

The public hearings are an opportunity to learn more about the proposed GHG rules, to hear commentary from interested parties, and even contribute to the dialogue and decision making. The Department of Health is also accepting any written comments and recommendations via mail or hand delivery to:

Hawaii State Department of Health, Clean Air Branch
919 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 203,
Honolulu, HI, 96814


The comment period ends on January 14, 2013. You can view Blue Planet Foundation's comments here.

To view the official proposed GHG rules, the Department of Health website may be accessed at The RISE Program and interns have been supporting the GHG rule-making process since January 2011, and the following is our interpretation of the publicly available materials relating to the proposed rules.



The schedule is as follows:



Tuesday, November 20, 2012, 5pm

Waiakea High School, Hilo, Big Island

Wednesday, November 28, 2012, 2pm

919 Ala Moana Boulevard

(AAFES Building), Honolulu, Oahu

Thursday, November 29, 2012, 5pm

Wilcox Elementary School, Lihue, Kauai

Friday, November 30, 2012, 6pm

Pomaikai Elementary School, Kahului, Maui



Background to Hawaii’s Proposed Rules:

Hawaii’s proposed GHG rules are a direct result of Act 234, Hawaii’s Global Warming Solution Law, signed in 2007 by Governor Linda Lingle. The Act seeks to reduce Hawaii’s GHG emission levels to that of 1990 levels by January 1, 2020. Since the signing of the Act, the Department of Health Clean Air Branch has been under fire to implement rules that will have a large effect on Hawaii’s electricity generation (see this 8/18/11 Civil Beat article for background on the delays).  The proposed GHG rules will aid in achieving this goal by setting a statewide GHG emissions limit that identifies and requires emissions reductions from the State’s largest GHG emitters. The proposed rules may incur costly effects on major GHG sources, including energy producers and landfills, as they seek to modify their operations in order to reduce their overall emission levels. However, the benefits of these GHG rules includes reducing the state’s dependence on imported fossil fuels; reducing the State’s emissions and contribution to global climate change; and supporting the goals of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative.  

Hawaii from a National Perspective of GHG Rules:

Eighteen states have now passed mandatory GHG reporting measures, as illustrated in the map (Source: Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, July 5, 2012). The following outlines the major ways in which state rules may differ, and a short summary of Hawaii’s proposed rules:

1.     The sectors required to report – GHG is emitted from sources of all sizes, so each State’s legislating body needs to define sources to require reporting from at an achievable and manageable scale.  The State of Hawaii’s draft rules targets existing electric power producers, refineries, and landfills, while excluding Municipal Solid Waste Combustors such as H-Power, and deferring biogenic emissions until 2014. New or modified sources are also covered, to ensure emissions aren’t being displaced.

2.     The size of facilities that are required to report – Hawaii’s proposed rules target larger sources with potential emissions above 100,000 tons CO2equivalents/year – which is estimated to effect 25 sources in Hawaii.

3.     The setting of GHG Limits – Reporting GHG emissions doesn’t necessarily mean reducing emissions.  Hawaii’s proposed rules seek to reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 (as set by Act 234), which equates to 13.66 MMT CO2e – a number taken from the 2008 Hawaii GHG Inventory report by ICF International, which excludes aviation and international bunker fuel emissions and includes carbon sinks.

4.     The setting of fees – Fees may be associated with reporting in order for the State to have the capacity to manage the reporting process. Hawaii’s proposed rules change fees for only federally regulated covered sources, and the fee is based on the amount of emissions emitted.

Comprehensive information about GHG reporting by State is also available on the EPA’s website.

What you can do:

Hawaii’s GHG regulations, though technical, will have a major impact for all of Hawaii’s energy users, Hawaii’s energy producers, and anyone impacted by GHG emissions and global climate change (read: everyone!). If you cannot make it to the above public hearings, please contribute your thoughts by mail or hand delivery by January 14, 2013 to:

Hawaii State Department of Health, Clean Air Branch
919 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 203,
Honolulu, HI, 96814

Nov 07

Here's a ranking of Hawaii's largest carbon polluters. Note that the top 3 sources pollute as much as the next 21!

Nov 05

A photo journal of the eviction of the Riverdale mobile home park residents in north-central Pennsylvania. From the most excellent website "BURN":

The Riverdale mobile home park used to sit on the banks of the Susquehanna River in north-central Pennsylvania. It housed working families with modest incomes. Earlier this year, all the Riverdale trailer families were evicted to make room for a pump station and pipeline that would move Susquehanna water to fracking sites elsewhere in the state.

Some from Riverdale went willingly. Some did not. Some stayed to fight the evictions. Everyone shared in the hardships. The disruption unsettled families and undermined their support networks as they wondered what to do and where to go.

BURN host Alex Chadwick visits the stories of Riverdale with free lance photographer and Pennsylvania resident Lynn Johnson, who works on assignment for National Geographic.

Check it out here.

Oct 08

Let’s call LNG what it is. LNG is a fossil fuel, just like oil and coal. It’s 90-percent methane (CH4), a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Hawai‘i Gas likes to call methane a “cleaner-burning fuel.” But that handy phrase hides the fact that methane leaks out of the ground during drilling (hello, fracking) and that fossil fuels are consumed to ship it across the sea. LNG is liquefied methane. It’s not clean. It’s not renewable. It’s not local. It’s not sustainable.

Read the rest of our commentary posted at Civil Beat.