Beyond Oil – Hawaii’s Clean Energy Promise

June 15, 2017
6pm   -   8pm
West Hawai'i Civic Center, Council Chambers

Why does a transition to clean energy matter to Hawaii’s economy and environment?

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Studies on the emerging global clean energy economy project the addition of millions of related jobs by 2030.

Renewable energy now employs nearly 10 million people worldwide, according to a new report. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said Wednesday in its 2017 annual review that the solar industry alone provides more than three million jobs worldwide, and projected that the renewable industry could employ 24 million people by 2030.

What will be the rollover effect for Hawaii’s job market and how are local governments working to maximize this economic opportunity. Most of the predicted clean energy economic benefits and local job gains are expected to be concentrated in construction and service sectors relevant to local clean energy generation.

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Questions we expect to address in this forum 


Will HELCO (currently Hawai’i County’s exclusive utility) continue to throttle future adoption of Hawai’i Island’s rooftop solar potential for island residents and businesses? How cost effective are home and business battery storage systems connected to rooftop solar systems? What happens as power consumers become power producers? When does it make sense to pull-the-plug on HELCO and high energy costs?

Is burning trash or trees (so-called bio-energy) to generate electricity really the best way for Hawai’i island to break it’s addiction to oil? What and how much will ratepayers pay to subsidize HELCO partner operations in the name of renewable energy, as exemplified by the recently signed HELCO and Hu Honua Bioenergy long term (PPA) power purchase agreement?


What impact will the steady rise in sales of electric vehicles (EV) in Hawai’i have on electricity demand and the state’s largest utility in meeting its 2045 RPS commitment, and will that transition to 100% renewable energy also be clean energy? Will HELCO’s grid access restrictions to grid-connected rooftop solar adoption impact EV adoption? Electric vehicles are increasingly being refueled from solar energy, wind and distributed non-utility clean energy sources. Will this trend further enable Hawaii’s transition to 100% clean energy?

EV cars and SUV’s employ high efficiency on-board regenerative braking converts wasted braking heat and friction into electricity, charging the vehicle’s on-board battery and extending driving range. With technology invocation and greater efficiency, along with battery advances enabling longer range EVs and eSUV’s, long held assumptions about the need for an extensive vehicle charging infrastructure on Hawai’i Island may no longer apply. What will be the evolving need for public investment in deploying an effective network of charging stations and infrastructure to support mass-market EV adoption?


EV QuoteA larger focus on renewable generation by Hawai’i, and beyond the traditional and regulated utilities promises benefits in local job growth in an emerging clean energy economy for Hawai’i – how will this goal be fulfilled on the Big Island?

On the national front, a newly elected president and his cabinet / agency heads have one thing in common, each are actively working to turn back the clock on clean energy, deny climate science, roll-back environmental protections, and take the country back to a time when extraction and burning of fossil fuels was America’s primary energy path.

How will the new Administration’s policy changes, regulatory roll-backs, funding changes cuts, and exiting the global Paris Climate Agreement may impact Hawaii’s environmental and clean energy goal to be free of oil and coal power imports by 2045.Quote

Is California – a clean energy model for Hawai’i?

California, one-eighth of the U.S. population with 39 million people and one-seventh of the nation’s gross domestic product of $2.3 trillion, is far from “being a mess” as President Trump recently described the state. California’s economy is bigger than ever, rivaling the U.K. as No. 5 in the world (2016).

California is home to 20 of the 130 companies in North America and South America that meet the standard classification of clean energy. These 20 companies produced a total return of 45 percent during the past 12 months, beating the clean energy benchmark’s 13 percent, the S&P 500’s 19 percent and the S&P 500 Energy Index’s 6 percent. California clean energy companies reported annual revenue growth of 26 percent, almost three times the benchmark, and they turned more revenue into profit with an average gross margin of 46 percent.

Top Ten Clean Energy StatesJobs at clean energy companies in California increased 14 percent last year, double the average rate for the industry. Technology is helping drive the clean energy boom, as California companies lead most of their peers in U.S., and with better paying jobs. According to Bloomberg, market analysts also are more bullish on companies in California than the rest of the U.S. because of its leadership in clean energy transformation of its massive economy, a bulwark against regressive energy polices now coming from the federal government.

Will Hawai’i benefit from other like-mind states whose policies support renewable energy adoption and are actively engaged in a transition to a clean energy economy? What lessons can Hawai’i learn from other western states led by California and remain fully committed to a clean and sustainable energy path.

Find out the answers to these and other important questions that affect your pocketbook, health, and our island environment.

This forum took place on June 15, 2017, at 6pm at West Hawai'i Civic Center, Council Chambers.

To learn more about each Forum featured speaker, click onto the presenter's name listed below their picture.

This event was moderated by:

Bill Bugbee
Community Forums

The event's featured speakers were:

Isaac Moriwake, Esq.
Attorney, EarthJustice, Mid-Pacific Office
Jose Dizon
Paniolo Power
Henry Curtis
Life of the Land
Noel Morin
Big Island Electric Vehicle Association

Speaker Presentation Materials

The presenters have graciously allowed us to post their presentation notes.

Forum Session Video

View the recorded session here: