Hawaii Garners National Recognition for Investment in Energy Efficiency

A national network of energy efficiency experts recently honored Hawaii with its “Race to the Top Award” for the pioneering work being done by state and county agencies to boost investment in energy efficiency projects that are helping the state meet its clean energy goals.

The nonprofit Energy Services Coalition (ESC) for the sixth consecutive year recognized Hawaii as the nation’s per capita leader in energy performance contracting (EPC), a form of innovative financing for capital improvements that allows government agencies to pay for energy efficiency upgrades with the savings on their utility bills. In addition, the ESC for the second straight year named Hawaii one of its “Energy Stewardship Champions” for achieving infrastructure modernization, environmental stewardship, and economic development through performance contracting.

“The growth of energy performance contracting is making a significant impact on Hawaii’s use of imported fossil fuels while helping diversify our economy by sustaining and creating jobs in the clean tech sector,” said Luis P. Salaveria, director of the State Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism. “I commend the state and county agencies that are executing energy performance contracts, and for playing a leadership role in Hawaii’s clean energy transformation.”

EPC uses the savings from upgrades such as digital controls for energy systems, and lighting, plumbing and air conditioning improvements to repay the cost of the equipment and its installation. The costs are borne by the performance contractor and paid back out of the energy savings.  The ESC in its annual “Race to the Top” program ranks the 50 states based on the per capita amount invested in performance contracts for government buildings. Hawaii’s investment of $372.81 per capita in 2017 earned the state a sixth consecutive No. 1 ranking. The national average for EPC investment is $62.72 per capita.

“Using a tool like energy performance contracting to retrofit buildings not only makes them more efficient and comfortable, it delivers meaningful energy cost savings to building owners,” said Carilyn Shon, HSEO administrator. “Furthermore, using energy more efficiently is the fastest, most cost-effective way to pursue Hawaii’s clean energy goals.”

In addition to the Race to the Top honor, Hawaii was one of 12 states that earned the ESC’s Energy Stewardship Champion award for a combination of its political leadership, programmatic design, and the amount of private sector investment in guaranteed energy savings performance contracting (GESPC) in their states.

“GESPC is a financial strategy leveraging guaranteed future energy savings to pay for energy efficiency upgrades today,” said Jim Arwood, ESC Executive Director. “Hawaii has achieved considerable recent success in support of implementing energy efficiency projects in public buildings and infrastructure through the use of a GESPC.”

The Hawaii State Energy Office (HSEO), a division of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, accepted the Race to the Top and Energy Stewardship Champion awards during the ESC’s annual conference August 9-11 at the Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson, Nevada.

HSEO provides technical assistance to state and country agencies entering into energy performance contracts. The EPC projects vary widely and include office buildings, community colleges, airports, highways, and prisons. In a typical EPC, the building owner contracts with an energy service company to install the energy improvements and guarantee the energy savings over the contract term. The contractor is then paid out of the energy savings and captures the incentives made available by Hawai‘i Energy to promote investment in energy efficiency.

“Hawaii continues to be a national leader in clean energy and energy efficiency,” said Brian Kealoha, executive director of Hawaii Energy.  “Since 1996, Hawaii state government agencies have saved, on average, more than 5 million kilowatt hours a year, equating to over $24 million in savings, with the majority of this coming through EPCs. Hawaii Energy has worked with the State Energy Office and state agencies to help them make smart energy choices. Hawaii Energy has rewarded these agencies with over $11 million in incentives for projects such as lighting, air conditioning system efficiency upgrades, and advanced building automation systems to promote investments that ultimately save taxpayers money while helping Hawai‘i achieve its 100 percent clean energy goal faster.”

Performance contracts signed by state and local government agencies in Hawaii since 1996 include 295 buildings and facilities covering more than 112 million square feet. The savings are the equivalent of powering 388,210 homes for one year.

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