Catharine Lo

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May 29
2013

Hawaiian Electric presented its draft action plans to the Integrated Resource Planning working group (of which Blue Planet is a member) today. You can download the presentation slides here. They will be presenting to the public and accepting comments on the following dates:

Hawaii Island

Tuesday, June 4: 6-8 p.m. Aupuni Center Conference Room, 101 Pauahi St., Hilo

Wednesday June 5: 6-8 p.m. 96-1149 Kamani St., Pahala

Thursday, June 6: 6-8 p.m. King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, 75-5660 Palani Rd., Kailua-Kona

Oahu

Wednesday, June 12: 6-8 p.m. Farrington High School cafeteria, 1564 N. King St.

Maui County

Thursday, June 13: 6-8 p.m. Pomaikai Elementary School, 4650 S. Kamehameha Ave., Kahului

Wednesday, June 19: 6-8 p.m. Mitchell Pauole Center, 90 Ainoa St., Kaunakakai

Thursday, June 20: 5-7 p.m. Hale Kupuna, 1144 Ilima Ave., Lanai City

Information about IRP, including the four energy scenarios that guided the planning analysis, is available at www.irpie.com, the website of the PUC’s independent representative facilitating and monitoring the process.

Ongoing technical analysis of the scenarios is available on the site. The completed analysis and Draft Action Plans will be available for public review on the site after presentation to the citizens’ Advisory Group on Thursday, May 30, 2013.

 

May 29
2013

Another great offering from our friends at Hawaii Energy:

Efficiency Sales Professional Certification Program – an intense, 6-day training led by Mark Jewell that combines instruction on professional selling, financial analysis, and segment-specific business acumen – all tailored to the energy efficiency industry. This special boot camp format is brought to you by Hawaii Energy. Reservations are first come, first served and limited to 10 individuals per company. GBCI (LEED) and AIA continuing education credits available.

The Program will equip you with the resources, insights, focus, and skills needed to:

·         Identify and capture the attention of the highest-quality prospects
·         Quantify and monetize all of the benefits of enhanced efficiency
·         Understand how people in different segments and decision-making roles view and value efficiency
·         Generate proposals and supporting financials that are concise and compelling
·         Understand the differences between how owner-occupants, landlords, and tenants view and value efficiency
·         Generate compelling value propositions
·         Expand your service offerings to be more comprehensive
·         And much, much more!
 
Program Details
June 10-15, 2013  If you cannot attend the entire week, you can make up the sessions at a future boot camp.
DoubleTree by Hilton Alana Waikiki Hotel
Honolulu, HI

Who should attend? Efficiency products dealers and distributors, mechanical and electrical contractors, energy-efficiency specialists, architects, engineers, HVAC and lighting designers, building owners and managers, utility representatives, commissioning authorities, and anyone else whose success depends on the successful advocacy of efficiency projects.

Fee: $350 for 50 qualified* attendees (90% off the normal price of $3,500—subsidized by Hawaii Energy).  The program fee includes breakfast, lunch and afternoon refreshments each day, a professional headshot, and a year of on-going support through the Ninja Network.

*In order to receive the Hawaii Energy sponsored seat, registrants must submit a resume or brief bio showing demonstrating more than one year's experience in any of the following areas:

·         design, sales, maintenance or monitoring of significant-scale electricity-consuming equipment or systems
·         direct involvement in the design and/or implementation of energy-related programs
·         sales or marketing-related endeavors with an intention to begin or continue working in the energy efficiency/conservation arena in Hawaii.

OR, write a compelling essay explaining how this training will help you help the ratepayers of Hawaii directly achieve Hawaii Energy's mission (see website).

Note: Hawaii Energy is subsidizing the cost of this program for Hawaii, Honolulu and Maui county residents.  Residents of other counties must pay the unsubsidized program fee of $3,500. Please call (808) 333-7225 to process your registration.

To learn more about the program and to register visit: www.efficiencysalesprofessional.com

May 06
2013

Hawaii Energy is again presenting a series of workshops by Mark Jewell of the Efficiency Sales Professional Institute that will help efficiency professional/building owners adopt energy efficiency strategies that will boost bottom lines/save costs. The cost per workshop is $20 for Honolulu/Maui/Hawaii County folks (regular registration fee is $200), subsidized by Hawaii Energy. It includes food. Here are the workshop descriptions:

Using Efficiency to Build Your Business
(May 16 – Honolulu, May 20 – Kona)

Emphasizing how your products or services could enhance your customers’ energy efficiency is a proven path to higher revenues and profits.  The following two sessions will help manufacturers, distributors, contractors and consultants leverage energy efficiency to grow their businesses.

 

·       Finding Your FocusAM Session

What are you really selling?  Who are your most promising targets?  Learn how to answer these questions by “connecting the dots” between what your offerings provide and segment-specific benefits that your prospects actually value, as well as account development strategies to build your revenues, market shares, and profits. Learn more and register.

 

·       Getting Energy Projects Approved PM SessionThis workshop will teach you how to find right decision-makers and how to capture their attention - important first steps in getting your efficiency projects approved.  You’ll also learn how to reframe discussions away from simple payback period to financial metrics that really matter and how to overcome myths that often delay or prevent projects from moving forward. Learn more and register.

 

Boosting Your Competitiveness, Profitability and Value with Efficiency
(May 17 – Honolulu, May 21 – Kona)
Energy efficiency’s potential for making business owners, building owners and managers more competitive, profitable and valuable is often understated because the discussion is too narrowly focused on first cost, utility savings and rebates.  A discussion that incorporates financial benefits beyond utility savings as well as non-financial benefits is not only more interesting, but also more likely to result in a project approval.

·       Taking Control of Your Energy Use AM SessionBefore you can take control of your energy use effectively, you need to answer two questions: “Why?” and “How”?  Why should your organization embrace energy efficiency?  (Hint:  It’s not just about reducing your utility bill.) How much can you expect to accomplish with behavioral and no-cost/low-cost measures? These and many other questions will be asked and answered, providing you with a road map for taking control of your energy use. Learn more and register.

·       Making Efficiency Happen PM SessionYour ability to “make efficiency happen” is directly related to your ability to get decision-makers excited enough about the potential benefits to invest the time and resources necessary to make a change.  Which measures have been identified?  What utility-cost-financial, non-utility-cost financial and non-financial benefits would those measures provide?  Have the benefits been reframed so that they can be measured by the yardsticks your organization already uses to gauge its success? Have you identified all of the potential “free money” to help pay for the project? This session will offer answers to these questions (and many more like them) because they hold the key to making efficiency happen. Learn more and register.

 

Course Fees: $20 to attend either the morning or afternoon session, or $40 to attend both sessions.  Hawaii Energy is subsidizing the cost of these workshops for residents of Hawaii, Honolulu and Maui counties. Residents of other counties must pay the unsubsidized workshop fee of $200 per half-day workshop.

We hope to see you there! If you have questions, please feel free to contact us info@eefg.com or (808) 333-7225.

Apr 26
2013

SB1087, which estabishes a green financing loan program that can help fund on-bill financing, passed out of conference committee and is headed to the floor for a final vote. Learn more about the program here or read the Star-Advertiser article here. Our program director, Richard Wallsgrove, was there at the legislature fighting for it all the way. Go Richard!

"It's a game-changer, that's the best way to put it," said Richard Wallsgrove, program director at the Blue Planet Foundation.

"It's innovation because we're taking all of these pieces that people have figured out — rich guys in suits in New York who have figured out how bonds work to finance big projects — and rather than financing coal plants and nuclear power plants, now we're going to finance rooftop solar, energy efficiency in homes — so, things that are directly going to drive down people's bills. And anybody can sign up for it. There's no limit to the impact it could have on our energy infrastructure."

Apr 18
2013

Posted on in Energy Policy

Here's our editorial that will run in tomorrow's Honolulu Star-Advertiser:

By replacing oil with sunshine, we’re keeping $1.13 billion in Hawai‘i that would otherwise be spent on importing fuel for electricity. that’s a significant sum of money—not just to afford frivolous things, but enough to fund big pieces of a better future for the next generation: early childhood education for nine years, healthcare for a year for every child under 14, or a two-year scholarship to UH for every high school student.

Solar energy has been a bright spot in Hawai‘i’s drive toward energy independence, and the renewable energy tax credit has effectively helped Hawai‘i become a national leader in solar installations. Solar’s growth has created 9,000 local jobs, generated additional tax revenue, and kept money circulating in our local economy rather than being shipped overseas.

Investments in solar water heaters and solar photovoltaic systems will pay dividends that benefit every Hawai‘i resident over the lifetimes of these systems:
• Keeping $1.13 billion in our economy

• Displacing 8.68 million barrels of imported oil

• Preventing the release of 7.3 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere

Contrary to conventional perception, solar is not only for the wealthy. The solar tax credit has served as a critical mechanism for making solar accessible to a broadening range of homeowners. Blue Planet Foundation’s analysis of more than 22,000 building permits for photovoltaic (PV) systems on O‘ahu issued between January 2002 and December 2012 found that the uptake in PV system installations is accelerating most quickly in zip codes with lower median incomes, spanning Leeward, Central and Windward O‘ahu. Adoption of PV by lower income households provides relief from high electricity bills to those who stand to benefit the most.

The abrupt elimination of the renewable energy tax credit will halt the momentum that has made Hawai‘i a leader in solar adoption and jeopardize the stability of an industry that represents 26 percent of the state’s construction expenditures. An incremental ratcheting down of the tax credit will produce more desirable consequences than the wholesale unraveling of the industry at its height.

Blue Planet Foundation and a broad coalition of regulators, solar installers, and renewable energy advocates agree that a phased reduction over time in the state solar tax credit is the right approach, aligning the tax credit with the decreasing cost of the technology while still providing enough nudge to spur private investment in solar. We urge the State to take a smart, balanced approach and adjust the tax credit as recommended in Senate Bill 623.

The state renewable energy tax credit has increased the adoption of solar energy, while growing the economy, producing jobs and reducing our dependence on imported oil. If you support local energy, please urge your legislator to vote YES on SB 623.

Solar is good for Hawai‘i. Let’s keep it growing and see what possibilities we can achieve.

Apr 11
2013

Enquiring minds and legislators want to know, so we asked. Here are findings from our market research on consumer attitudes toward solar and the solar tax credit. The quantitative study was conducted in March 2013.

Mar 05
2013

As the bills for the 2013 legislative session make their first crossover, here's a look at the House bills Blue Planet is tracking:

HB 856 HD2: Green financing program
On-bill financing—currently being developed at the Public Utilities Commission—overcomes the
biggest hurdle to energy efficiency and clean energy: the up-front cost. By eliminating the initial
cost and enabling ratepayers to pay off the investment directly from energy savings over time,
adoption of efficiency and clean energy will accelerate. This measure establishes a regulatory
financing structure to enable low-cost capital to fund the on-bill financing program. It does so by
using a small portion of the existing ratepayer-funded “public benefits fee” to securitize bonds
that can be used to fund on-bill financing. This would enable residents and small businesses
statewide to access the benefits of solar and efficiency investments.
 
The Green Financing program proposed in HB 856 HD2 offers several critical benefits:
1. It can be an “anchor” funding source for on-bill financing, ensuring program feasibility
irrespective of the scope or magnitude of private funding sources that wish to participate
in the on-bill program;
2. It can ensure that the on-bill program includes equitable financing options for all
residents, including residents who are otherwise unable to access traditional sources of
private capital for energy improvements, such as renters and low-income households;
3. It can unlock large-scale private capital markets, pushing down the cost of capital, and
making energy efficiency and clean energy even more cost effective for ratepayers;
4. Green Financing bonds do not become a state liability; thus, the on-bill program
catalyzes private investment in our energy infrastructure;
5. It does not raise costs for energy ratepayers; the Green Financing fee established by HB
856 HD2 can simply utilize of a portion of the existing Public Benefits Fee,  and bond
repayments will be made by the program participants (i.e. the ratepayers whose energy
bills will be reduced by energy improvements).
 
HB 857 HD2: Barrel tax reallocation
Hawaii’s barrel tax law is keystone clean energy policy that provides a dedicated investment in
clean energy, funding the critical planning, development, and implementation of clean energy
programs that will foster energy security for Hawaii. Unfortunately, only $0.40 of the $1.05 tax is
dedicated to clean energy and food security. This measure reallocates the $1.05 to fulfill the
intended sustainability purposes of the policy, with almost half of the funding being directed to
energy security. This measure also repeals the sunset date for the tax. We believe that this
measure properly amends Hawaii’s “fossil fuel fee” to reflect the original intent of the policy.
Blue Planet has found—through extensive market research—that the policy of taxing our fossil
fuel imports to fund clean energy solutions has broad support among Hawaii residents. Although
HB 857 HD2 does not expand the barrel tax to include other fossil fuels, such as coal or gas,
Blue Planet supports such a sensible policy to ensure equity among fossil fuels and to raise
additional funds for clean energy and food security.

HB 497 HD3: Renewable Energy Tax Credit amendments
Solar energy is currently a bright spot in Hawaii’s progress toward energy independence, and
the renewable energy tax credit has been extremely effective at making Hawai‘i a leader in solar
installations—creating local jobs and providing steady revenue from its business creation. Blue
Planet has found that the renewable energy credit yields a clear, significant net fiscal benefit to
the state, with each commercial PV tax credit dollar invested generates $2.67 in new tax
revenue, among other benefits to the overall economy.
 
House Bill 497 HD3 contains a number of elements which make it an attractive policy, for the
state economy, the solar sector, and for achievement of Hawaii’s aggressive clean energy
goals. First, the measure follows the framework and definitions of the federal tax credit law,
making it easier for the state to administer. Second, the proposed policy ratchets down the state
renewable energy tax credit for photovoltaic in a fair and predictable manner, reducing job-
jeopardizing volatility in the solar sector. Finally, the measure establishes a production tax credit
for certain projects to reduce the first year fiscal impact of the credit and to foster innovation and
efficiency in renewable energy systems (the incentive is on the output, not the system cost).
 
HB 810 HD2: Grid modernization consideration at Public Utilities Commission
To take advantage of distributed and diversified sources like solar, wind, and wave, the grid has
to become smarter and have the capacity to store electricity. It will resemble today’s Internet—
where distributed servers both send and receive packets of information—and less like
yesterday’s commercial television. Such a self-aware, robust “smart grid” will instantaneously
adjust to shifts in wind strength or cloud cover over solar, balancing energy loads on the other
side of the wire and drawing on stored energy when needed. This measure requires that the
PUC consider the value of the smart grid and the benefits of modernizing Hawaii’s electricity
grid to accommodate more clean energy sources. This measure will provide important policy
guidance to the PUC to help them weigh the often competing objectives in their deliberations.
 
HB 1405 HD2: Transparency in power purchase agreements
Public energy utilities in Hawai‘i are a regulated monopoly. Thus, utilities enjoy gain no
competitive advantage from keeping their costs proprietary, and the public has an important
interest in disclosure of those costs. As a result, there is no justifiable reason for power
purchase agreements to remain hidden from the rate-paying public. Indeed, increased market
transparency will allow our energy market to operate more efficiently, leading to fairer
opportunities for power producers, and leading to better rates for consumers. For this reason,
Blue Planet supports HB 1405 HD2, which increases transparency in power purchase contracts.
However, we request that the bill be amended to promote transparency for all power purchase
agreements, rather than just to agreements for the purchase of energy from non-fossil fuel
sources.

Mar 03
2013

As the bills for the 2013 legislative session make their first crossover, here's a look at the Senate bills Blue Planet is tracking:

SB 1087 SD2: Green financing program
On-bill financing—currently being developed at the Public Utilities Commission—overcomes the
biggest hurdle to energy efficiency and clean energy: the up-front cost. By eliminating the initial
cost and enabling ratepayers to pay off the investment directly from energy savings over time,
adoption of efficiency and clean energy will accelerate. This measure establishes a regulatory
financing structure to enable low-cost capital to fund the on-bill financing program. It does so by
using a small portion of the existing ratepayer-funded “public benefits fee” to securitize bonds
that can be used to fund on-bill financing. This would enable residents and small businesses
statewide to access the benefits of solar and efficiency investments.
 
The Green Financing program proposed in SB 1087 SD2 offers several critical benefits:
1. It can be an “anchor” funding source for on-bill financing, ensuring program feasibility
irrespective of the scope or magnitude of private funding sources that wish to participate
in the on-bill program;
2. It can ensure that the on-bill program includes equitable financing options for all
residents, including residents who are otherwise unable to access traditional sources of
private capital for energy improvements, such as renters and low-income households;
3. It can unlock large-scale private capital markets, pushing down the cost of capital, and
making energy efficiency and clean energy even more cost effective for ratepayers;
4. Green Financing bonds do not become a state liability; thus, the on-bill program
catalyzes private investment in our energy infrastructure;
5. It does not raise costs for energy ratepayers; the Green Financing fee established SB
1087 SD2 can simply utilize of a portion of the existing Public Benefits Fee, and bond
repayments will be made by the program participants (i.e. the ratepayers whose energy
bills will be reduced by energy improvements).
 
SB 17 SD2: Fossil fuel tax and reallocation
Hawaii’s barrel tax law is keystone clean energy policy that provides a dedicated investment in
clean energy, funding the critical planning, development, and implementation of clean energy
programs that will foster energy security for Hawaii. Unfortunately, only $0.40 of the $1.05 tax is
dedicated to clean energy and food security. This measure—in preferred form—reallocates the
$1.05 to fulfill the intended sustainability purposes of the policy, with almost half of the funding
being directed to energy security. This measure also repeals the sunset date for the tax. We
believe that this measure properly amends Hawaii’s “fossil fuel fee” to reflect the original intent
of the policy. Blue Planet has found—through extensive market research—that the policy of
taxing our fossil fuel imports to fund clean energy solutions has broad support among Hawaii
residents.

Senate Bill 17 SD2 also expands Hawaii’s fossil tax beyond petroleum products. Blue Planet
strongly supports expanding this “fossil fuel fee” to all fossil imports, including coal (nearly one
million tons imported annually) and industrial methane and gas. We would prefer, however, that
SB 17 SD2 base the fossil tax on energy content, not the carbon emissions at the point of
burning, to accurately capture the impacts of each fuel.  
 
SB 623 SD2: Renewable Energy Tax Credit amendments
Solar energy is currently a bright spot in Hawaii’s progress toward energy independence, and
the renewable energy tax credit has been extremely effective at making Hawai‘i a leader in solar
installations—creating local jobs and providing steady revenue from its business creation. Blue
Planet has found that the renewable energy credit yields a clear, significant net fiscal benefit to
the state, with each commercial PV tax credit dollar invested generates $2.67 in new tax
revenue, among other benefits to the overall economy.
 
Senate Bill 623 SD2—although largely devoid of specific amounts—does contain a number of
elements which make it an attractive policy, for the state economy, the solar sector, and for
achievement of Hawaii’s aggressive clean energy goals. First, the measure follows the
framework and definitions of the federal tax credit law, making it easier for the state to
administer. Second, the proposed policy ratchets down the state renewable energy tax credit for
photovoltaic in a fair and predictable manner, reducing job-jeopardizing volatility in the solar
sector. Finally, the measure establishes a production tax credit for certain projects to reduce the
first year fiscal impact of the credit and to foster innovation and efficiency in renewable energy
systems (the incentive is on the output, not the system cost).
 
SB 1040: Grid modernization consideration at Public Utilities Commission
To take advantage of distributed and diversified sources like solar, wind, and wave, the grid has
to become smarter and have the capacity to store electricity. It will resemble today’s Internet—
where distributed servers both send and receive packets of information—and less like
yesterday’s commercial television. Such a self-aware, robust “smart grid” will instantaneously
adjust to shifts in wind strength or cloud cover over solar, balancing energy loads on the other
side of the wire and drawing on stored energy when needed. This measure requires that the
PUC consider the value of the smart grid and the benefits of modernizing Hawaii’s electricity
grid to accommodate more clean energy sources. This measure will provide important policy
guidance to the PUC to help them weigh the often competing objectives in their deliberations.

Feb 05
2013

Remember how hard we pushed together to pass on-bill financing two legislative sessions ago? We're pleased to announce that the PUC has determined it to be a viable program and initiated the process to make it a reality. Here's the press release we sent out today:

Public Utilities Commission sets landmark on-bill financing program for Hawai‘i in motion

The Hawai‘i Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has issued an order that lays out the framework for an on-bill financing program for Hawai‘i residents and small businesses. On-bill financing will enable customers—including renters—to pay for energy efficiency devices and solar energy directly through their electricity bill using the cost savings over time. Blue Planet Foundation successfully advocated for the on-bill financing act at the legislature in 2011 that initiated the investigative proceeding at the PUC later that year. Since then, Blue Planet has been a vocal champion of the policy, serving as an active intervening party throughout the PUC's proceeding.
 
“On-bill financing opens the door for residents statewide to participate in Hawaii's clean energy future," said Jeff Mikulina, executive director of Blue Planet Foundation. "By eliminating the hurdle of unaffordable upfront costs, on-bill financing makes the benefits of clean energy accessible to those who stand to gain the most—those who can least afford it.”

The PUC's order determined that on-bill financing is a viable program for the state and specified key components to be included in the program’s design. The Commission also ordered the creation of a working group to finalize the details of the program and its implementation.
 
Decision highlights:
 
·      Solar photovoltaic, solar thermal water heating and all permanently installed energy efficiency improvements are eligible for financing.
·      Participants will be enrolled in the utility’s demand response programs to help enforce grid stability.
·      An energy audit should be required for participants. This will help prescribe efficiency measures that should be taken before installation of solar PV, and it will determine the size of the PV system that qualifies for financing.
·      The Public Benefits Fee Administrator, currently Hawaii Energy, will administer the program.
·      The working group will offer recommendations to select a financing administrator that has the flexibility of obtaining and distributing low-cost capital from various sources.
·      The financing is attached to the meter so that those making the payments will receive the benefits, and these benefits can be passed between successive occupants of a property.
·      Kaua‘i’s utility cooperative, KIUC, has been directed to create an on-bill financing program for its customers.

Blue Planet advocated for an expansive on-bill program that included energy-efficient appliances and all customer classes. Unfortunately, the PUC took a more narrow position, limiting the types of devices that would qualify for the program and restricting the program to residential and small business customers only.

“We’re disappointed that the Commission didn’t see the value in including all businesses and other commercial customers who face the same challenges to accessing clean energy,” Mikulina continued, emphasizing the need to create a scalable program that can have an even greater overall impact.

He added, “On-bill financing is the kind of smart, innovative solution we need to simultaneously bring economic relief to ratepayers and accelerate our transition to a fossil-free future.”

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Residents and small businesses will be able to finance solar directly on their utility bills? Sunny and Flare do the dance of joy!


 

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In other news...

 

Feb 04
2013

Our 2012 annual report has been published! Check out the digital version here.