Ulupono Initiative, SolarCity Partner to Invest $15 Million to Finance Local Solar Power Projects

Ulupono Initiative, a for-profit impact investment firm, is investing a total of $15 million over the next year to finance SolarCity solar power projects in Hawai‘i. The partnership is expected to increase Hawaii’s solar power generation by approximately five percent, and can be expanded over time.

“Ulupono is investing in this partnership with SolarCity to bring affordable solar power to local customers that can help them manage their rising utility bills,” said Kyle Datta, general partner of Ulupono Initiative. “We see SolarCity as a strong, nationally-recognized partner with a world-class supply chain that is committed to hiring locally, and is well-positioned to help further our work to decrease Hawai‘i’s dependence on outside sources for the state’s energy needs.”

“We’re truly excited about this collaboration, which will provide local financing to help customers in Hawai’i protect themselves from rising electricity costs through clean, homegrown energy provided by SolarCity’s local workforce,” added Jon Yoshimura, director of government affairs for SolarCity. “Solar makes sense in Hawai’i and the partnerships with Ulupono Initiative will make it more affordable and accessible.”

“As we work to accelerate renewable energy in Hawai‘i, we’re identifying ways to use available incentives to help attract more institutional capital to innovative projects like these,” said Murray Clay, managing director of Ulupono Initiative. “Our hope is that this will catalyze others to replicate this structure. We believe this can expand solar development in Hawai‘i to increase renewable power generation to help meet the State’s energy goals.”

About Ulupono Initiative

Ulupono Initiative LLC is a for-profit impact investment firm that strives to improve the quality of life for the people of Hawai‘i by working toward solutions that create more locally grown food, increase clean renewable energy production and reduce waste. For more information about Ulupono Initiative, please visit www.uluponoinitiative.com.

About SolarCity Hawai’i

SolarCity® provides Hawai’i homeowners, business and government organizations cleaner, more affordable alternatives to their utility bills from its local operations center in Mililani. The company makes it simple for customers to lock in lower, long-term rates for clean energy by providing everything from permitting and installation to ongoing monitoring and maintenance. Additional information about the company’s operations in Hawai’i is available on the Web at http://www.solarcity.com/states/hi/hawaii.aspx.

Jon Yoshimura to Run in Special Election for Honolulu City Council

Former Council Chair and Communications Director for U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka Announces Candidacy

After serving as U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka’s communications director for more than six years, former City Councilman Jon Yoshimura returned to Hawaii last year to join the clean energy movement. Today, he expressed his desire to expand his service to the people of Honolulu by declaring his intention to run in the special election to fill the Honolulu City Council District VI seat recently held by his former Akaka co-worker, Tulsi Gabbard.

John Yoshimura and his wife Yuki

“The people of Hawaii have chosen well in their resounding support for Tulsi Gabbard. She has actively served District VI with honor and integrity that I will continue,” said Yoshimura.

Honolulu District VI includes Makiki, Downtown Honolulu, Punchbowl, Liliha, Pauoa Valley, Nuuanu, Alewa Heights, Papakolea, Kalihi Valley, and a portion of Kalihi. If elected, Yoshimura would fill the remaining two years of Gabbard’s term. A special election will be held in conjunction with the general election on Tuesday, November 6.

“This is an election for a two-year term. There is no time to learn on the job,” said Yoshimura. “Having served two full terms, eight years on the City Council, I have the experience and the passion to serve the people of District VI.”

A lawyer and former television reporter, Yoshimura was first elected to the Honolulu City Council in 1994. His Council colleagues called upon him to serve as council chair from 1999 to 2002, during which time he lead the Council’s effort to renew Waikiki, including the successful Waikiki Beach Walk project.

Yoshimura was also the author of two City Charter amendments, overwhelmingly approved by Honolulu voters in 2002, that created the Office of the City Auditor and set renewable five-year terms for the Honolulu Police Chief. “I believe both strengthened government accountability and that’s good for the people of Honolulu,” said Yoshimura.

Within his Council district, Yoshimura actively supported community policing teams, initiated annual work days in Papakolea, worked to protect the interests of senior citizens, was a key figure in the revitalization of Honolulu’s Downtown-Chinatown corridor.

But Yoshimura’s rising political career was marred by a 1999 drinking and driving incident in which he left the scene after hitting a parked car. Humiliated and embarrassed, Yoshimura publicly apologized for his mistake and readily accepted his suspension from practicing law for six months for lying to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. Since then he has spoken out about the negative effects of drinking and driving.

“Professionally, I did a lot of things I’m proud of. But personally, I made mistakes that I’m ashamed of. While I regret the gross error of judgment, it has proven to be one of the biggest and most important lessons in my life,” said Yoshimura. “Ten years have passed since I left the City Council. I’ve learned a lot, matured, gained wisdom working for one of Hawaii’s most beloved public servants, and the passion for public service still burns in my heart.”

Yoshimura returned to the islands last year to accept a position as an executive with SolarCity, a national leader in clean energy services with local operations in Mililani.