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Lawmakers Agree to Fund ‘Green’ Energy Program

April 21, 2014, 5:17 PM HST (Updated June 10, 2014, 4:08 PM)
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House and Senate budget conferees have agreed to a $150 million bond sale for a statewide program to provide financing for photovoltaic and other alternative energy initiatives.

The Green Energy Market Securitization, or GEMS, was created by Act 211 in June 2013.

It is designed to make clean energy projects available for under-served community members, including low- and moderate-income homeowners and renters and non-profit organizations.

“Clearly, this levels the playing field for all of Hawaii’s residents to be a part of Hawaii’s efforts to be energy self-sufficient,” said Rep. Sylvia Luke, chairwoman of the House Finance Committee.

“We found that the upfront costs of alternative energy equipment are a barrier, preventing many electric utility customers from investing in solar panels and other alternative energy equipment.

The deal was guided through the budget conference committee by Luke and Senate Ways and Means Chairman Sen. David Ige.

“The program will take a proven rate-reduction bond structure and use it in an innovative way to provide low-cost financing to utility customers,” said a press release from the Legislature.

Payment for the alternate energy sources would be made over time through the recipient’s electrical bill.

The agreement, which is still pending official approval of the state budget, would disburse $150 million from the state’s Green Infrastructure Special Fund.

Pending approval from the state Public Utilities Commission, monies for the fund will come from sales of “green infrastructure” bonds by the state.

The state hopes to get the program underway this year.

More information on GEMS is available here.

***Updated June 10, 2014.***

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