The Hawai’I Energy Policy Forum (HEPF) held its second member-driven peer exchange on October 10, 2019, with a focus on clean transportation and opportunities for unlocking procurement options for government fleets. Participants from all four Counties and the State government came together to tackle two main objectives:
The peer exchange, led by the County of Hawai‘i, began with a request for participants to zoom out, and think about their overall role and contributions in the clean transportation shift happening in Hawai’i – and recognizing that each of us has something to offer and contribute in support of the state’s ambitious goals, as well as questions that we are each working through in order to unlock progress.
After an open opportunity for sharing information on ongoing initiatives, the group jumped into discussion focused on what concerns would need to be addressed in any clean transportation procurement process, regardless of how it were structured – considering both vehicle fleets themselves and the purchasing process. This portion of the day provided an opportunity for people who are in similar roles but in different organizations, such as across different state agencies and the Counties, to connect and interact.
Participants then drilled down further into the details, discussing what components must be included in a successful clean transportation procurement process, and what gaps or placeholders will need to be filled (starting to build the framework for procurement documents). Four breakout discussions focused on different topic areas, and key takeaways included:
The peer exchange closed by defining immediate next steps, and an activity to remind us that we are working on complex problems that can sometimes require actions that seem both complementary and opposing. Several of these “wicked questions” were surfaced, such as how we can both act and plan simultaneously, and how fleets can both collaborate (across counties and the state level) while also meeting their individual needs. Finally, participants were asked to share one thing they were excited about moving forward with after the peer exchange; it was clear in the room that everyone is dedicated to making progress and continuing to work collaboratively.
The event was facilitated by Kaitlyn Bunker from Rocky Mountain Institute, who interacted with several of the participants at RMI’s recent Mobility Innovation Lab Project Accelerator. This external facilitation allowed all attendees to actively participate, and also brought insights from RMI’s experience working on mobility system transformation around the globe.
HEPF initiated a new program- -member-driven peer exchanges, which are small group policy discussions on specific, shared energy policy and planning issues aimed at encouraging collaborative dialogue to inform policy and action. HEPF’s first peer exchange (co-sponsored by Ulupono Initiative and Hawaii Energy) focused on the Mitigation-Resilience-Equity (M-R-E) Nexus. It was held on September 11, 2019 in Kaanapali, Maui, on the shoulder of the Hawaii Conference of Planning Officials (HCPO), to bring planners and other folks working in energy, sustainability, and transportation together. Stakeholders included those working in government entities, utilities, academia, for-profit, and not-for-profit sectors, and included both HEPF and non-HEPF members.
The M-R-E nexus is an emerging framework for project and policy development responding to the need for more equitable climate action and resilience efforts across communities. The framework recognizes that the climate crisis does not impact everyone in our communities equally, and that our project and policy responses should seek to support those with the greatest needs first. This concept is being developed by a handful of leading cities around the Country, and stems from the need for local government to leverage limited resources as much as possible to equitably achieve climate mitigation and resilience goals. In short, it is about putting people first as we develop new solutions and projects.
In the months leading up to the peer exchange, the peer exchange lead (Kauai County) facilitated two planning calls with peer exchange participants to discuss desired outcomes, all driven by the question: How do we lead with equity in our broad mitigation and resilience efforts, and specifically, as we work to deliver on Hawaii’s ambitious clean energy goals? Given Urban Sustainability Directors Network’s (USDN) work in spearheading this movement across the United States and Canada, as well as Fort Collin’s progressive project to pilot an M-R-E approach in their climate action initiatives, HEPF welcomed Kristin Baja, Climate Resilience Officer at USDN, and Lindsay Ex, Climate Program Manager for the City of Fort Collins, to facilitate and disseminate their lessons learned to leaders from Hawaii.
The format of the peer exchange was interactive, starting with a more-traditional style lecture, which then transitioned to a workshop with mixed brainstorming sessions and County breakouts. The four-county sustainability leads briefly provided a brief update on some of their recent work relating to energy, transportation, mitigation, and equity. This was followed by a deep dive into a discussion about improving and understanding the common ground of equity, highlighting the idea of a targeted universalism approach, which focuses on historically marginalized groups first to then benefit all groups of people.
“Targeted universalism is addressing the needs of the least well-served in order to benefit everyone. Targeted solutions that address the needs of people of color and low-income residents can, in fact, benefit everyone. Yet, without a targeted strategy, often times community-wide outcomes improve while leaving behind the most vulnerable populations.” From “Equity in Sustainability” Angela Park, USDN, 2014.
In the afternoon, participants worked in small groups to break down large topics, such as mobility and electrification of transportation, by looking at solutions through the M-R-E nexus lens. Instead of the historical way of thinking, where solutions first and foremost provide mitigation benefits, the goal of the exercise was to get peer exchange participants to refocus the work they do by considering impacts and benefits to people first, and then find where that additionally intersects with mitigation and resilience. Following this activity, participants sat together by County and brainstormed opportunities they could pursue within the M-R-E nexus, then shared them with the group. Some interesting proposed projects included: initiating and supporting community resilience hubs, changing state procurement rules around rental vehicles, improving walkability around high transit corridors, and allowing County fleets to be used by third party partners.In the past, Baja noted that we typically plan for middle-class individuals, but we should instead be looking at the people that get ignored the most, and creating programs to support them, specifically related to clean energy, transportation and mode-shift. Participants had the chance to reflect and share examples of equity and inequity in our communities, with an attempt to cut through class, race and geography when making our communities more climate resilient. Facilitators then moved into the M-R-E portion of their presentation, highlighting the framework’s objective to put people first in mitigation and resilience work, and how outcomes can differ dramatically when mitigation is a starting point. Fort Collins has been piloting this approach by funding for groups to come and present to their communities, identifying community ambassadors, and starting out by listening and asking people what their priorities are when tackling climate change.
Key takeaways from the workshop included momentum for individuals at those tables to work together to pursue these projects, and further engage their professional and personal communities on the basis of putting people and equity first. There was also important discussion on how to more effectively work across sectors represented at the peer exchange to utilize the power and potential of a united message and efforts based on what each sector can offer. Additionally, participants expressed the importance of bringing to the table those who were not represented at the peer exchange. Facilitators and participants alike reflected on the need for this conversation now and moving forward, and were thankful for the opportunity to get together and commit to changing the way they approach their work in mitigation and resilience within clean transportation to prioritize equity.
To learn more about the M-R-E peer exchange, listen in at Thinktech Hawaii – Hawaii: The State of Clean Energy
HEPF moderated Women in Renewable Energy’s (WiRE) legislative session debrief on May 24, 2019. Panelists included Representative Nicole Lowen, Jeannine Souki from Hawaii Gas, Shannon Alivado from Hawaiian Electric, and Melissa Miyashiro from Blue Planet Foundation. Before diving into the discussion, HEPF spoke about the Forum, its new initiatives, and public resources developed by HEPF. To help facilitate the WiRE discussion, HEPF compiled a 1-page summary of the type and count of energy bills introduced during the 2019 session, referenced to each bill number (a more comprehensive list of bills can be downloaded here). Transportation bills were the most introduced topic, covering electric, fuel-cell electric, and zero-emission vehicles; bills related to solar, carbon pricing, disaster management and resilience followed.
Discussion surrounded bills that passed such as allowing a mutual assistance agreement with an out-of-state utility to help restore electric or gas power in the case of a natural disaster or emergency, appliance standards modeled after California for select appliances not regulated at the federal level, energy performance contracting for state and county fleets, electric vehicle (EV) charging system rebates for multi-dwelling units and workplaces, a $50 annual fee for EVs (in addition to the vehicle registration fee), restructuring the Hawaii State Energy Office and a carbon pricing study. Panelists also touched on bills that did not pass like the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for the gas sector and microgrid projects. Though these bills did not move forward, they are important in pushing for more progress like current efforts outside of legislative mandates. Through discussion on bills that both passed and failed, the panelists provided insight into the legislative process—from how bills evolve, to the role of an advocate versus a legislator, and the dynamics between the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the Legislature.
Lastly, the panel spoke about policies and bills heading into the next legislative session. These include benchmarking for commercial buildings, electric vehicle mandates for rental car fleets, EV ready parking stall mandates for new construction, fixing the electric sector RPS (so that a 100% RPS means 100% of generation comes from renewable sources), and microgrid projects based on establishing the value of grid services within the open PUC docket proceeding. Panelists are looking forward to continuing to collaborate with stakeholders and find alignment on bills in the interim.
HEPF was a sponsor of the Hawaii Energy Conference held on March 27-28, 2019. Over 300 energy stakeholders met for thought-provoking dialogue on energy policy. This year’s theme was “Innovation in Practice.” HEPF hosted an outreach booth to highlight the Forum’s activities and resources. Participants were also asked to provide their thoughts on two questions: “What are the most pressing energy issues facing Hawaii in the next few years? What energy issues would benefit from more discussion amongst Hawaii stakeholders and mainland experts?” Common themes that arose from students include climate change and public awareness. Energy stakeholders focused more on technical issues and solutions such as pricing mechanisms, modernizing grid infrastructure, land-use considerations, and data access and analysis. Clean transportation and equity (creating access for all customers and reducing cross-subsidization) were issues raised amongst all respondents.
HEPF sponsored Dr. Beverly Scott to present the keynote speech at the Hawaii Climate Conference (Hā O Ke Kai) on January 14, 2019. Over 200 people attended the conference from the public, private, and government sectors. Dr. Scott gave an inspiring speech on how addressing climate change is fundamentally about community building, focusing on people, communities, and outcomes. She noted Hawaii’s leadership in tackling climate change through our 100% renewable energy, carbon neutrality, and clean transportation sector goals. Following the conference, Dr. Scott met with Forum members and other energy stakeholders. A big mahalo to Dr. Scott for sharing her knowledge with Hawaii and a hui hou!
For Dr. Scott’s keynote speech, see https://vimeo.com/album/5688436.
Presentation slides are available at https://www.iyai.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/DrScott-Powerpoint-as-PDF.pdf.
Hawaii Public Radio – http://www.hawaiipublicradio.org/post/equity-climate-solutions-focus-hawai-i-climate-conference
Civil Beat – https://www.civilbeat.org/2019/01/fight-against-climate-change-is-an-all-out-all-in-war/