Hawaii Legislature Takes Steps to Make Renewable Energy Accessible For All

The House Committees on Energy & Environmental Protection and Consumer Protection & Commerce held a joint informational briefing with the Senate Committees on Energy and Environment and Commerce and Consumer Protection to provide an update on the creation of an on-bill renewable energy financing program for the state.

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On-bill renewable energy financing would provide homeowners, renters, and those who currently cannot afford renewable energy the option to go green while immediately lowering their electric bills. Renewable options such as solar photovoltaic will be financed and installed through this program, and residents will pay it down through their electric bills, which will immediately drop in cost by at least twenty percent. After 15 years, residents will own their systems.

Several bills to establish finance mechanisms for the first-of-its-kind program, including HB497 and HB865, are currently advancing through both chambers. Experts say they have the potential to eventually bring billions of dollars in renewable energy investment to Hawaii.

Internationally recognized expert in renewable energy financing, Cisco DeVries joined members of the Committees and industry stakeholders for the briefing. Mr. DeVries is President of Renewable Funding, which designs, administers and finances clean energy programs to state and local governments as well as the private sector – in the United States and abroad. In his presentation he observed that the program Hawaii is developing to finance clean energy is one of the most innovative approaches he has seen.

“Today you are laying the groundwork for a model that will not only solve your clean energy goals but will be replicated throughout the country,” said Mr. DeVries.

“This is a game-changer that will make renewable energy available to the masses,” said House Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection Chair Chris Lee (Kailua, Waimanalo).

 

Mechanical Incidents on Boeing Aircraft and Possible Strike Lead Hawaii Legislature to Meet for Informational Briefing

Boeing Informational Briefing

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WHAT: The House Committees on Consumer Protection and Commerce, Labor, and Tourism will be holding a joint informational briefing in response to the recent mechanical incidents of Boeing aircraft and the possibility of a labor strike.

WHEN: Monday, January 28, 2013 at 2:00 p.m.

WHERE: Hawaii State Capitol, Conference Room 325

WHY: The recent mechanical incidents and possibility of a labor strike at Boeing has raised a number of potential concerns for the State. Contingency plans to mitigate any impacts on the islands – to include reduction of routes to less trafficked airports, alternative avenues for freight traffic, and the impact of a reduced flight schedule on tourism – will be among the topics of discussion.

WHO: The panel will include House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce Chair Angus McKelvey, Mike McCartney, President and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Ray Goforth, Executive Director of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), members from the House Committees on Consumer Protection and Commerce, Labor, and Tourism. Representatives from Boeing and members of the commercial airline industry servicing Hawaii are also invited.

 

Hawaii Foreclosure Reform Bill Passes Final Floor Vote

House Bill 1875 HD2 SD2 CD1, amending the mortgage foreclosure law to provide additional protections for Hawaii’s homeowners, passed its final floor vote before the full House and Senate today with a combined vote of 73 Ayes and 3 Noes.

“Once again, we won one for the homeowners, and I couldn’t be more pleased,” said Rep. Robert Herkes (District 5 – Puna, Ka’u, South Kona, North Kona) who serves as the Chair of the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce.  “The bill we passed last year had its critics, but our primary focus has always on helping and protecting the homeowner.”

Last Session, Governor Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 651 into law as Act 48 to protect Hawaii owner-occupants from predatory tactics of financial lending institutions.

The mortgage foreclosure task force – a legislatively created group composed of stakeholders with diverse interests including consumer advocates and professionals representing and affected by the mortgage industry, did a thorough, comprehensive analysis of Act 48.  Their recommendations to refine Act 48 and to otherwise preserve the intent and spirit of the law were presented in HB1875.

The task force recommended that the legislature:  (1) temper the provision relating to the Unfair Deceptive Acts or Practices (UDAP) law so lenders need not fear UDAP liability for minor violations;  (2) make permanent the process allowing owner-occupants to convert their non-judicial foreclosure to a judicial foreclosure; (3) establish a separate non-judicial foreclosure and lien collection process for associations; (4) give similar rights and obligations to planned community associations; (5) provide specific language for informational notices to the public on the foreclosure process; and (6) provide technical clarifications and improvements of various provisions in Act 48.

The legislature adopted virtually all of the task force recommendations – with a few modifications and further amendments.

The bill fully repeals the Part I non-judicial process which was the mechanism used to non-judicially foreclose on homeowners before its moratorium under Act 48.

Under HB1875, a comprehensive lien collection and foreclosure process for condominium, homeowner, and planned community associations is established, which is in harmony with Hawaii’s mortgage foreclosure process.

The bill also calls for lenders’ attorneys filing judicial foreclosures on residential property to sign an affirmation stating that she or he verified the bank’s legal standing as well as the accuracy of the documents submitted to court.  This requirement is akin to a court rule that has been applied to all judicial foreclosures in New York State.

The publication requirements for auction notices will also be revised to encourage competitive pricing while balancing the need for broad dissemination of auction information.

State agencies will also be authorized to publish auction notices electronically for a significantly lower price than print notices; so long as one print notice (as opposed to three) is published at least two weeks prior to an auction sale.  The DCCA will spearhead this effort by creating a website for property subject to the dispute resolution program.

House Bill 1875 also makes the dispute resolution program permanent.

HB1875 may be viewed at:

http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=1875