As the Abercrombie Administration moves the state toward reducing our dependency on imported oil through energy efficiency measures and renewable energy installations, it is important for all communities to get involved. Farms and rural small businesses in Hawai'i are ideal candidates, including those on Maui, to benefit from lower utility costs and energy saving improvements.
Our State Energy Office is now offering agriculture producers and rural small businesses an investment-grade energy audit to assess energy use and recommend ways to reduce their operating costs through energy savings.
The State Energy Office, part of the state's Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), has received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program to offer the audits. Assisting us are Hawai'i Energy and GDS Associates. Because funds are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis, we are urging those who qualify to apply quickly.
Government That Works
Governor Neil Abercrombie
Here's how the program works: Once the application is received, an Association of Energy Engineers-Hawai'i Chapter professional will make a site visit to look for where and how energy is currently being used and identify opportunities for improvements. Site visits may take between two and four hours to gather necessary information, and participants can expect a full report within 45 days of the site visit.
The audit report will include a tailored list of ways to conserve energy, estimated installation costs, payback period for each recommendation and assistance in prioritizing energy efficiency improvements.
While participants are not required to implement the audit recommendations, they are encouraged to pursue those that make the most sense for them. Financial incentives and assistance programs to install recommended energy conservation measures are available through Hawai'i Energy and the USDA.
Energy audits typically run between $3,000 and $8,000, depending on the facility. As part of USDA requirements, applicants will be responsible for paying a small upfront share of the audit cost, which will be calculated on a case-by-case basis. However, applicants can receive a reimbursement of the audit's upfront cost (up to $5,000) through Hawai'i Energy's Whole Building Assistance incentive offer.
Applicants interested in making the recommended energy efficiency updates to their business may be eligible for a loan through GreenSun Hawai'i, financed by the Hawai'i Community Reinvestment Corporation.
This energy audit is not just another "cost of doing business." We hope agricultural producers and rural small business owners will see it as an investment in their energy future and a chance to save money over time.
Our goal is to educate businesses about their energy usage and which energy savings measures are right for them. If businesses take advantage of the audit grant and the incentives for installing recommended measures, Hawai'i will be closer to achieving its overall clean energy mission.
To see if your business qualifies for an energy audit and to download an application, visit the state Energy Office's Website at energy.hawaii.gov/energy-audit-opportunities (or simply go to the State of Hawai'i's Web portal at hawaii.gov and search for "Energy Audit").
Local energy audit service providers from the Hawai'i chapter of the Association of Energy Engineers are located on Maui and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.