Just as it took a political commitment to bring mass tourism to Hawai‘i, we will need strong leadership to shift the islands away from oil. Abercrombie will create a powerful Hawai‘i Energy Authority, increase efficiency programs and align the electric utility’s financial success with real progress in clean energy.
This is an important issue. Up to now, politicians have only put political pressure on the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) to switch to renewables. And for years, they received political answers in the form of green-washing commercials. But if HECO could increase profits by putting more renewables online, many of the technical problems with grid instability would quickly be solved.
Another worthwhile goal would be to enable community-based energy projects. Every part of the new billion-dollar infrastructure that is owned by us—not New York bankers—will provide disposable income and retirement security. The new Feed-in Tariff (FIT) is the best mechanism to support the middle class.
Maui will be a step ahead and profit tremendously from this development. Once the County Council declares the goal to have all of Maui’s electricity in 2020 made from clean energy sources (and not jungle-eating palm oil), Maui will become the shining star of the Hawai‘i energy revolution.
As a clean energy island, Maui will attract investments and ideas, and conferences and visitors, which will all prove that we can step away from a destructive fossil fuel economy while saving money and resources, and creating much-needed quality jobs.
But this is not happening in a vacuum. An increasing number of jurisdictions have a 100 percent clean energy goal. Germany just had a large conference for its over 100 towns and counties with this goal. Locations as diverse as Tuvalu, Scotland, and the City of San Jose have already set high standards.
Let us all work together for “A New Day” for Maui and become the 100 percent “Clean Energy Island” by 2020.