Transcending oil

Hawaiʻi is heading towards 100% clean energy.
But until we get there, we spend over a billion dollars per year on foreign oil.

Hawaii gubernatorial candidates take on energy, climate at public forum

By HJ Mai, Web Editor/Energy Reporter

HONOLULU (Pacific Business News) –

Several of Hawaii’s gubernatorial candidates discussed the issues of climate and energy at the first “Business of Climate & Energy Candidate Forum,” which took place on the campus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa on Monday.

The forum, which was organized by Honolulu-based Blue Planet Foundation in collaboration with Elemental Excelerator and the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, featured Democratic incumbent Gov. David Ige along with Republican candidates John Carroll and state Rep. Andria Tupola.

Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, who challenges Ige in the Democratic primary, could not attend the event due to a prior engagement. However, she provided written answers to the questions that all participants received ahead of the forum.

UH professor Chip Fletcher set the framework of the forum with an opening presentation about global greenhouse gas emissions and their effects on climate. He said to stop global warming at 2 degrees centigrade, the world community would have to cut global carbon emissions by 50 percent per decade starting in 2020.

“Despite the dramatic rise in renewable energy, it is still a minor player on the global stage,” Fletcher, the associate dean of academic affairs at UH’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, said during his presentation. Oil and coal dominate on the global scale, generating 61 percent of the world’s energy, while renewables account for only 4 percent.

While the four gubernatorial candidates agreed that Hawaii should play a leadership role in the pursuit of clean energy and transportation, they differ on what the focus of Hawaii’s energy and climate policies should be. The following is a collection of interesting quotes from the forum:

“I intend to go after [Hawaiian Electric], which is a monopoly, a legal one, but totally ruining our cost of living here in terms of electric production and fossil fuel, and not even granting permits to people to put in some solar energy.” – Carroll

“I think the two most important projects that will accelerate our commitment to clean, renewable energy – first, is grid modernization, especially here on Oahu. We definitely need to get smart meters and a smarter grid that will enable increased penetration of rooftop solar and other activities. And second, the most important project, I think, is community-based solar. We want to make sure that everyone in our community can benefit from the reduced costs that solar panels provide for us.” – Ige

“The No. 1 major source of energy that we have here that we hardly use at all is geothermal. I would be focusing directly on that. … This entire state could be powered out of the Big Island.” – Carroll

“We cannot expect people to just automatically know that this is what I should do because it’s better for the environment, we need to be actively teaching our communities, showing them … why these options are not just better for our health but also better for our environment.” – Tupola

“I support accelerating our electrification of transportation efforts, which includes single-occupancy vehicles, government fleets and public transit buses with robust charging networks. … Further, as we transition off fossil fuels, electric vehicles will increasingly run on low-carbon electricity and as an added benefit the [Electrification of Transportation] affords Hawaiian Electric the means to stabilize and increase the efficiency of their grid.” – Hanabusa

“Over the past eight years, HECO said that emissions had dropped 20 percent, which means we would have to substantially step up our game in order to get [to a 50 percent reduction] in 10 years. That’s going to take a lot of people thinking together, making sure we are not putting on additional regulation that prohibit businesses from getting there quick enough.” – Tupola