Hawaii vows to more than double energy savings

Audrey Mcavoy, Associated Press
Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) -- Hawaii wants to more than double the energy it saves over the next two years by retrofitting government buildings with new lighting, air conditioning and other energy saving equipment.

The plan is expected to cost about $300 million which will be paid for by savings gleaned from reducing energy use. Airports, jails and university buildings are among those that could receive new equipment as part of the project.

The State Energy Office says the retrofitting should directly and indirectly create more than 5,000 jobs for engineers, equipment installers and other workers.

The efficiencies will move Hawaii closer to its goal of reducing fossil fuel use by 70 percent by 2030. To meet this target, the state plans to slash energy use by 30 percent and obtain 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources.

The public safety and transportation departments have signed on to participate in the plan along with Kauai County and several Honolulu County departments.

Each agency will have to pay for their own improvements, the state energy office said. But they're not expected to have to make major upfront investments because they will contract the work out to energy service companies and pay the companies for the work over time.

Potential targets include Hawaii's 15 airports, the public safety department's prisons and jails, 30 buildings on the University of Hawaii at Hilo's campus and Honolulu's largest wastewater treatment plants.

Hawaii announced the plan Wednesday in Chicago at a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, an event that focuses on promoting U.S. economic recovery.

"This is a great opportunity for Hawaii to share our path to energy self-sufficiency and a clean energy economy, while also learning what others are doing to solve their energy issues," Mark Glick, the state energy administrator, said in a statement. Glick was in Chicago for the announcement.

Carilyn Shon, the State Energy Office's efficiency branch chief, said the meeting provided a high-profile forum for Hawaii to share its plans and learn from others.

The state currently saves 48.5 kilowatt hours of energy a year through energy efficiencies. The plan would more than double this amount.

Hawaii aims to achieve the energy savings during the two years through June 2015.