Ulupono rallying for key energy and transportation bills

Mar 27, 2024

As the 2024 legislative session approaches Second Crossover, we’d like to highlight several of our top priority measures that hold immense potential for the future of Hawaii’s energy and transportation policies.


SB2518, State Policy to Support Geothermal Exploration 
This measure requires and appropriates funding to the Hawaii State Energy Office to conduct an environmental assessment statewide and then administer a geothermal resources characterization program. The program will be under the direction of the Hawaii Groundwater and Geothermal Resource Center at the University of Hawaii.

Why we support this bill:
We support this bill because in order for Hawaii to meet its 100% renewable energy goal by 2045, as outlined in the Hawaii State Energy Office’s Hawaii Pathway to Decarbonization Report, wind and solar alone are not enough. Firm sources, such as geothermal, will also be necessary. Hawai‘i also faces many competing demands for available land, and geothermal projects use the least amount of land per megawatt of renewable power produced.  

HB2614, State Policy to Streamline Permitting for Residential Photovoltaics
This bill would require government entities that issue building permits to implement an online permitting platform by Jan. 1, 2025, that verifies code compliance, and issues permits to licensed contractors for solar distributed energy resource systems. The entities are also required to develop a self-certification process for those systems that are not compatible with the online permitting platform.

Why we support this bill:

Ulupono supports the use of SolarAPP+, or an equivalent platform, to help streamline solar and energy storage project permitting.  The Hawaii State Energy Office recently published its Hawaii Pathways to Decarbonization Report, which identifies, among other things, the significant need for additional renewable energy generation to meet broader economy-wide decarbonization goals.  Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are becoming so common that there is little risk and much to gain in terms of timeliness with such systems, as more renewable energy can be installed at a faster rate. The self-certifying procedure proposed in this bill supports a streamlined process for renewable energy projects, which may even decrease the workload on already burdened county planning and permitting departments. 


HB1829, State Policy for New State Buildings to be EV Ready
This bill requires all new state building construction parking to include at least 25% of electric vehicle charger-ready stalls. It also mandates that the state offices conduct a survey to identify high-priority state facilities and establishes a goal for the state to retrofit state facilities to be electric vehicle charger-ready. A report to the Legislature will be required.

Why we support this bill:
We support this bill because having more EV charger-ready parking stalls in new state buildings will help drive adoption of EV vehicles. The bill’s focus on workplace charging aligns with opportunities for lower-cost electricity rates. EV charger-ready facilities in new state buildings will also complement existing county-level EV readiness requirements as well as provide greater statewide accessibility as one of the largest landowners in Hawaii.

SB3021, E-mobility
This bill renames the Electric Bicycle and Electric Moped Rebate Program the Electric Mobility Rebate Program. It expands the eligibility criteria and amends maximum rebate amounts.

Why we support this bill:
We support this bill because it will broaden eligibility for the Electric Mobility Rebate Program and potentially the rebate amount. The program has assisted nearly 300 individuals but there is still approximately $600,000 in unused existing funding. The bill clarifies the device definitions while extending eligibility to all Hawaii residents and increases the funding per person, which will help reduce financial barriers for more kamaaina to access electric mobility devices. We also strongly support the rebate to be at point-of-sale to ensure equitable access.

There are also several local food and fresh water bills we highlighted in last month’s update that are still moving forward:

  • HB 2771, SNAP DA BUX Double Up Food Bucks Program
  • HB 2134, Hawaii Department of Agriculture Grant Writers
  • SB2814, Ag Irrigation Infrastructure
  • HB 2453 and SB 3142, Hawaii Department of Health Revolving Fund Flexibility
  • HB 1900, Commission on Water Resource Management Hydrologic Data Collection

How to submit testimony in support of any of these bills:

  • Log-in/register on the Hawaii State Legislature website.
  • Navigate to a bill’s measure status page and click the “Submit Testimony” button at the top (To find the page, click on the bill links provided above, or use the website’s search field by ending the bill number, e.g., “HB 1525”).
  • Write your testimony on why you SUPPORT that individual bill. Note: A brief statement of support is completely fine.
  • Submit your testimony 24 hours before the next hearing to be considered on time. “Late” testimony is accepted up until the time of the hearing.