Electric customers could get a financing break with new law

Third annual Hawaii Clean Energy Day
Third annual Hawaii Clean Energy Day
Gov. Neil Abercrombie
Gov. Neil Abercrombie

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Clean energy got a big boost today - as Governor Neil Abercrombie signed bill 1520 into law. Advocates say the law is the first step towards giving all you electric customers out there an easier option towards buying renewable energy systems or energy-efficient appliances for homes and businesses.

The Governor put pen to paper before a roomful of clean energy advocates. The crowd erupted into cheers as Mr. Abercrombie said "I'll sign 1520, relating to renewable energy, and make it law."

It directs the Public Utilities Commission to research and implement, if viable, a program called "on-bill financing". On-bill financing would eliminate the dreaded, often pricey up-front costs for electric customers to buy things like energy-efficient appliances or solar hot water.

"That's really the biggest hurdle," says Blue Planet Foundation spokesman, Jeff Mikulina. "People want to do the right thing but it's, 'How do I pay for this? How do I go about the process?' And this will really make it accessible and easy and affordable for folks."

The non-profit conservation group, Blue Planet Foundation, will work with the PUC to help cover the costs of the new law.

Think of on-line financing like your mobile phone bill. You don't pay the first two years of a service contract upfront. You pay a monthly fee. "This is a similar approach for solar or for efficiency, but even better, you pay through the actual savings it provides," adds Mikulina.

And in the end, you'll own that energy-efficient appliance or solar panel. The bill signing is welcome news at the third annual clean energy conference in downtown Honolulu  - where the discussions were about green policies, investment, and employment.

"We found that there were 11 thousand jobs, green jobs, in the economy - which account for 2.4% total employment within the state," says Jeff Matsu, of the Department of Labor & Industrial Relations. The department expects that number to triple by the year 2018. Advocates say clean energy awareness is finally reaching critical mass.

Conference moderator, Jay Fidell, says, "Everybody's going to be living the green life. And as you look around, you find more and more people getting on board." It's happening - one big step at a time.

"Done!" says the Governor … with his signature now on the dotted line.

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