2019 Legislative Session Debrief

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.