Morita looks to use energy expertise

Editor’s note: This is the fifth and final in a series of articles The Garden Island will publish this week on candidates for the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative Board of Directors.

HANALEI — Hermina Morita wants to use her clean energy expertise to help Kauai Island Utility Cooperative board of directors accomplish its renewable resource goals.

One of the board’s goals is for the island to be powered by 50 percent of renewable resources by 2023. Board members hope the island will be generated by 100 percent of renewable resources by 2045.

“Our cooperative is leading the way in clean energy transformation, not only with Hawaii, but nationally,” said the KIUC board candidate. “Running for a board seat is a way for me to serve our Kauai community using my past experiences.”

In her 15 years as a state representative, Morita said she wrote and championed energy laws for Hawaii. She served for 13 years as chair of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection. During her time as chair, she introduced the Renewable Portfolio Standard, a policy that requires electric companies to establish percentage goals for renewable energy sales. It is the policy that sets a 100 percent renewable energy goal for 2045.

Morita also served a four-year term as chair of the Public Utilities Commission, which oversees and regulates public utilities to ensure reasonable services.

She resigned from public service about a year ago, and now works as a consultant on energy issues and writes a blog, “Energy Dynamics,” that discusses the dynamics of of Hawaii’s clean energy transformation. She said she started the blog to better educate people about the issues.

“I am concerned that the significance of Hawaii’s energy transformation and paradigm shift, with its challenges, have not been adequately discussed with the general public and electricity customers who must, inevitably, pay for these costs,” she wrote on her blog.

The Hanalei woman hopes to put her experience to good use on Kauai, which she has called home since 1977.

“If given the privilege and honor, I get to work directly on how to strategically shape and sustain Kauai’s electric utility to provide excellent electricity service and value for our Kauai community, something that I have been doing indirectly for a good part of my political and public service career through policy development and regulation,” she said.

“As the utility delves into modernizing the electric system, the community needs to understand the technical and economic challenges to do so,” she said. “(But) another challenge would be to educate, inform and engage coop members. There has been a lot of emphasis on renewable energy but that’s only one part of the energy system equation. To help to stabilize rates we must keep costs under control, increase productivity and efficiency and make wise investments during this period of rapid technology advancements and uncertainty.”

KIUC also needs to address affordability and equity issues, she said.

“Clean energy policies must be available to all residents and businesses, not just those that can afford or site a rooftop photovoltaic system,” she said.

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