Hawaii Energy Bills Include a Solar Hot Water Requirement
Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle has approved a number of energy-related bills over the past several weeks, including one that requires most new single-family homes to include solar water heaters. Senate Bill 644, approved on June 26, prohibits the issuing of building permits for new homes without solar water heaters as of 2010. The bill excludes homes located in areas with poor solar energy resources, homes using other renewable energy sources, and homes employing on-demand gas-fired water heaters. The bill also eliminates solar thermal energy tax credits for those homes. See SB 644 and the governor's press release.
The governor's energy bill-signing streak started in late April with the approval of House Bill 2502, which allows solar energy facilities to be located on less-productive agricultural lands, followed in late May by the approval of HB 3179, which makes it easier for biofuel producers to lease state lands. In the same timeframe, the governor approved SB 2034, SB 3190, and HB 2168, which authorize special purpose revenue bonds to help finance a 2.7-megawatt wave energy facility off the coast of Maui, a solar energy facility on Oahu, and hydrogen generation and conversion facilities at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, located on the island of Hawaii. See HB 2505, HB 3179, SB 2034, SB 3190, HB 2168, and the governor's press release on biofuels.
On June 6, the governor approved SB 988, which allows the Hawaii Public Utility Commission to establish a rebate for solar photovoltaic electric systems, and HB 2550, which encourages net metering for residential and small commercial customers. On July 1, the governor approved the final three energy bills, including HB 2863, which provides streamlined permitting for new renewable energy facilities of at least 200 megawatts in capacity. HB 2505 creates a full-time renewable energy facilitator to help the state expedite those permits, while a third bill, HB 2261, will provide loans of up to $1.5 million and up to 85% of the cost of renewable energy projects at farms and aquaculture facilities. See SB 988, HB 2550, HB 2863, HB 2505, HB 2261, and the governor's press release on the final three bills.