Audit: Hawaii energy office’s mission, priorities unclear

HONOLULU — A state auditor could not figure out the Hawaii State Energy Office’s purpose or how well it does its job, he said in a report.

The energy office could not tell State Auditor Les Kondo how it has directly or indirectly contributed to the state’s clean energy goals, he said.

The state Energy Office is tasked with weaning Hawaii off of fossil fuels by 2045.

While progress on this goal is being made, Kondo said he is unsure if any of the credit can go to the office.

The office provided documentation of their contributions to the state auditor that was not acknowledge in the report, said Mary Alice Evans, deputy director for the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, in a reply to the audit.

The audit released Wednesday had other findings:

The office awarded a $250,000 contract to plan for a “state-of-the-art” energy innovation center seven months before asking a consultant to determine whether the center was needed.

It also found that personnel costs make up 90 percent of the office’s expenses, according to the audit.

The office is “spending $600,000 more than their current revenues,” Kondo said. “At their current level of spending they will eat through the energy security fund, which is their primary source of funding, by fiscal year 2019.”

The office has cut back its costs by delaying hiring, closing out contracts and limiting travel and training among other steps, Evans said.


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