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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).

Jun 27

Governor Abercrombie has signed Senate Bill 1087 into law. The landmark legislation creates a mechanism to secure low-cost capital for clean energy projects. This financing can be used as an anchor source of funding that will help maximize participation in Hawaii's on-bill financing program, providing alternatives for renters and low-income residents who may not have access to traditional sources of private capital to pay for energy improvements. Learn more about GEMS here.

Jun 04

Posted on in Energy Policy

Friday’s MECO rate case decision included an unprecedented reproach by the PUC in the form of a six-page addendum attached to the order. We include the clearly articulated reasoning of the “Commission’s Observations and Perspectives” here and commend the PUC for ensuring that the public utilities serve the public interest, and when they do not, holding them accountable.

Commission's Observations and Perspectives

The commission believes it is timely, necessary and essential to outline fundamental, emerging issues pertaining to the operation and regulation of investor-owned electric utilities in Hawaii to set a course that is mutually beneficial to utility shareholders and utility ratepayers.

The commission has observed that electric customers are increasingly frustrated because of high electric rates. These concerns were also expressed by the 2013 Hawaii State Legislature in connection with Senate Bill 120, Session Laws of Hawaii 2013, which authorizes the commission "to establish a policy to implement economic incentives and cost recovery regulatory mechanisms, as necessary and appropriate, to induce and accelerate electric utilities' cost reduction efforts, encourage greater utilization of renewable energy, accelerate the retirement of utility fossil generation, and increase investments to modernize the State's electrical grids." Therefore, the commission's Decision and Order in the instant docket and the simultaneous filing of the decoupling mechanism  investigation is intended to serve notice to Maui Electric Company, Limited ("MECO"), as well as the other HECO Companies.

The commission understands the importance of and supports the concept of delinking electricity sales from revenue. However, existing automatic adjustment mechanisms appear to unduly insulate the HECO Companies from the need or urgency to make major adjustments to current utility management and operational practices, thus offering no motivation to implement strategies and action plans that may be more conducive to serving the public interest.

The commission is concerned that the 2008 "Energy Agreement" may be the principal foundation for HECO Companies' overall business strategy. The HECO Companies' over-reliance upon a link between the Agreement and utility financial health obfuscates utility performance and ultimately customer service and satisfaction. The commission affirms its commitment and support of Hawaii's clean energy transformation. However, clean energy in and of itself is not the singular goal but rather should be viewed as one strategy to serve the public interest along with sound business practices centered on customer value.

From the commission's perspective, the HECO Companies appear to lack movement to a sustainable business model to address technological advancements and increasing customer expectations. The commission observes that some mainland electric utilities have begun to define, articulate and implement the vision for the "electric utility of the future." Without such a long-term, customer focused business strategy, it is difficult to ascertain whether HECO Companies' increasing capital investments are strategic investments or simply a series of unrelated capital projects that effectively expand utility rate base and increase profits but appearing to provide little or limited long-term customer value. While a public utility is required to have a reasonable opportunity to earn a fair financial return, attractive financial returns are not an entitlement by virtue of being a regulated utility.

The HECO Companies have characterized various automatic adjustment mechanisms that are used as regulatory cost recovery as an "Improved Regulatory Model" for security analysts in lieu of traditional general rate cases. Unfortunately, these automatic adjustment clauses are not linked to key performance measures such as rate affordability and customer satisfaction.

The commission believes that a well-managed, customer focused electric utility is one that is driven by a management philosophy and corporate culture to provide superior customer value through affordable electric rates and outstanding customer service, as defined by its customers. Top performing utilities embrace a well-researched phenomenon known as the virtuous cycle or virtuous circle where positive performance drives positive regulatory outcomes, which drive positive financials, which can then be reinvested in the utility to keep that cycle going.

Conversely, the opposite phenomenon, a "vicious cycle" also can happen. Poor performance drives poor regulatory outcomes and financial penalties starting a downward cycle in the opposite direction.

The virtuous cycle is readily apparent to those who follow and critically analyze electric utility financial performance. As a result, it is common knowledge among these professionals which utilities are top industry performers and whether the HECO Companies are recognized among the industry's elite performers in this regard.

The extent of the HECO Companies' own volition to achieve high performance, provide excellent customer service and affordable rates will determine the appropriate amount of regulatory oversight required. Otherwise, the commission would be forced to employ arduous regulatory scrutiny and oversight of utility expenditures, operations and investments to attempt to achieve the desired performance levels and customer satisfaction. The commission prefers the former but unfortunately, at the present time, believes the lack of a strategic and sustainable business model would require more of the latter until there is evidence of an acceptable course correction.

To this effort, the commission is committed to work collaboratively with the HECO Companies, Consumer Advocate, and other stakeholders for timely regulatory responses and action. The commission remains committed to alternative regulatory mechanisms to minimize regulatory lag and uncertainty and is open to innovation to streamline the ratemaking process to the extent they would be in the public interest. However, the achievement of a high performing, customer focused and financially viable electric utility with affordable rates is the responsibility of the electric utility management, not the commission, to deliver on its responsibilities and obligations to uphold the regulatory compact. The public interest demands no less.

# # #


May 29

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


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, 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

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:

May 06

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 or (808) 333-7225.

Apr 26

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

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

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

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