Charting a course for Hawai‘i’s energy future

With Hawai‘i’s high energy costs and over dependence on imported fuels, many people have participated in various discussion arenas, such as the Economic Momentum Task Force, to provide valuable input on how to improve Hawai‘i’s energy situation. After opening day at the Legislature, discussion groups in both the House and Senate, and the Governor have been unveiling energy proposals. Individually, these proposals may appear to be just small changes. However, many fall into the desired actions of the Hawaii 10-point Energy Plan outlined below. By talking and acting upon these measures in the framework of a 10-point plan, we can begin to understand how small changes can make big differences much like epidemics described in Malcolm Gladwell’s, The Tipping Point.

The Hawaii 10-point Energy Plan was adopted by the Hawaii Energy Policy Forum as a result of its discussion on how to help Hawai‘i citizens visualize the big energy picture and gauge our progress toward our preferred energy vision. Originally convened in 2002 by the University of Hawaii, the Forum continues to be a unique experiment in collaborative energy policy making.

The 43-members of the Forum includes representatives of the electric utilities, oil and gas companies, environmental groups, the renewable energy industry, the state legislature, federal, state and county agencies, the business community and major energy users. We embrace the Forum’s preferred energy vision of achieving “Smart energy solutions to sustain a healthy, prosperous and secure Hawai‘i.” The Tipping Point also describes how a well-placed vehicle, with a profound message, can seize an opportunity to chart and engineer the course for a social epidemic. A good historical example is former President John F. Kennedy’s announcement of the Apollo Project at Rice University in Houston on Sept. 12, 1962. In setting the stage for America’s ambitions in space explorations, President Kennedy said: “We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people … Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war.” President Kennedy rallied the citizens of the United States behind its proposed space program, committing American ingenuity and resources. Unfortunately, the essence of this important speech, to commit American ingenuity and resources, is not in the vernacular or soul of our nation’s leadership for bold and visionary ideas to guide America’s energy policy. However, despite the lack of this national leadership, many states, municipalities, labor organizations, businesses and community groups are partnering with a national initiative called the Apollo Alliance to use the Kennedy inspired Apollo Project as a model to launch bold grassroots’ energy agendas.

On Kaua‘i, increasing concerns over Kaua‘i’s energy costs have spurred lots of discussion. A newly-formed citizen’s group modeled after the national Apollo Alliance initiative has organized to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation on Kaua‘i. The Apollo Kauai includes grassroots energy activists, union and business representatives, native Hawaiians, legislative and community leaders. The Apollo Kauai Web site, www.apollokauai.org, describes the mission of the organization and provides meeting and event information or call 828-1602 if you do not have internet access.

The Apollo Alliance is a statewide, ambitious 10-year, 10-point plan that promotes the advancement of renewable energy and energy efficiency to drive investments into modern energy technologies and public infrastructure. It is anticipated that this initiative’s highly focused program for sustainable energy independence can create three million high quality jobs, free the nation from imported oil, revitalize underserved communities, reduce dependence on foreign oil and enhance energy security and promote a healthier environment.

Using the Apollo Alliance’s 10-point model, the Hawaii Energy Policy Forum’s 10-point Energy Plan was developed in the spirit of President Kennedy’s speech, to make a commitment towards action. Hawai‘i now needs to bring about a social, economic and environmental epidemic to create a tipping point for a sustainable energy future.

The Hawaii 10-point Energy Plan pulls into a framework the smart solutions that we need to accomplish as a community to sustain a healthy, prosperous and secure Hawaii.

HAWAII 10-POINT ENERGY PLAN

1. Expand renewable energy opportunities

2. Increase energy efficiency in public buildings

3. Increase the use of solar water heating and energy efficient appliances

4. Ensure policies and regulations, including state statutes, county ordinances, county and state administrative rules, case law and agency decisions and orders, are consistent in promoting energy efficiency and renewable resources.

5. Preserve regulatory protections

6. Invest in planning for sustainable communities

7. Improve energy efficiencies and options in transportation

8. Support research and development of alternative fuels

9. Encourage development, production, and use of biofuels

10. Ensure a secure system for fuels and electric utility grids Information on the Apollo Alliance can be found at www.apolloalliance.org.

Representative Hermina Morita’s District 14 covers East-North Kaua`i.

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