State should lead charge on energy
It is encouraging to see the Lingle administration enthusiastically and publicly support energy independence. The governor is barnstorming the state over the next several weeks to call attention to a variety of energy bills passed by the 2006 Hawai'i Legislature.
While some of the legislation falls short of the ambitious ideas first put forward by the Lingle administration at the start of the session, it does move the state a step or two closer to the ultimate goal of energy independence.
It is important that the administration press as vigorously as it can on these early initiatives so that even more far-reaching proposals can be considered next year.
Fittingly, many of these first-round ideas focus on the state itself. There will be a pilot program to put solar panels on at least one school on each major island, and a new policy will require agencies to consider fuel efficiency when building new buildings or purchasing vehicles.
Much of the alternative energy legislation passed this year leaves up to the Public Utilities Commission the tough work of deciding precisely how new rules and requirements will be enforced.
If the state can show it is fully committed to energy independence in its own jurisdiction, it will be easier for the PUC to adopt new energy policies in the private sector.