Governor Neil Abercrombie today signed into law bills that are aimed to move Hawai'i forward in reducing its dependence on imported oil. Two of the measures enacted today are Senate Bills 2785 and 2787, which were among the Governor's priority bills this past session.
"I want to thank the Legislature for recognizing the commitment that is needed to act now to move ahead with renewable energy projects that will benefit the State of Hawai'i,"stated Governor Abercrombie. "These measures are critical in addressing our sustainability. We must view our islands as interdependent and remain open to all renewable projects. My Administration is seeking long-term infrastructure investments that ensure our electric grids are stable, reliable and modern enough to integrate all available alternative and renewable energy technologies."
Senate Bill 2787 authorizes the Public Utilities Commission to develop, adopt and enforce reliability standards and interconnection requirements, as well as contract for the performance of related duties with a party that will serve as the Hawai'i electricity reliability administrator.
Senate Bill 2785 establishes a regulatory structure for the installation and implementation of an interisland high-voltage electric transmission cable system and for the construction of on-island transmission infrastructure.
In January, Governor Abercrombie announced the State will look at every option while being respectful to its approach to our island environment. The Governor assigned Lt. Governor Brian Schatz to coordinate and support the State's energy priorities and to ensure that the state stays the course.
"These two new laws push us forward with the Governor's plan for clean energy,"said Lt. Governor Schatz. "We are now leading the nation in this area, and although there's lots of work ahead, we are on the path to reducing our dependence on imported oil."
The Governor also signed into law SB 2150 and SB 2746. SB 2150 allows renewable energy systems on land designated for agriculture when the energy is used for the agricultural activity of that parcel. This will help further our clean energy goals while helping farmers implement more sustainable operations. SB 2746 authorizes the Department of Transportation to adopt rules for the issuance of license plates for electric vehicles and clarifies the conditions under which electric vehicles are exempt from parking fees.
Governor Abercrombie also enacted the following bills related to economic development:
SB 490 increases the maximum allocation of transient accommodations tax revenue to the tourism special fund from $69 million to $71 million until June 30, 2015; it also requires $2 million to be expended until June 30, 2015, for initiatives for international tourism.
SB 2281 authorizes an agency or an applicant to bypass the preparation of an environmental assessment and proceed directly with an environmental impact statement for proposed actions that are determined to require an environmental impact statement.
HB 2319 establishes a venture accelerator funding program under the Hawai'i Strategic Development Corporation to assist the State's technology businesses to compete for investment capital.
HB 2265 makes permanent the amendments made by Act 175, Session Laws of Hawai'i 2009. It requires performance and payment bonds for procurements for construction greater than $50,000 and raises the ceiling for small purchase procurement for construction from $100,000 to $250,000.
HB 2873 transfers the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) from the University of Hawaiꞌi to the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism's Office of Aerospace Development, and establishes a PISCES board of directors and appropriates funds.
"The economic vitality of our State requires out-of-the-box approaches,"stated Governor Abercrombie. "These measures related to economic development allow for greater opportunities for Hawai'i as a prime business location."
Richard Lim, director of the Department of Business of Economic Development and Tourism, said, "These laws demonstrate the Abercrombie Administration's commitment to positioning Hawai'i as an international leader in renewable energy and business development."
Governor Abercrombie has enacted more than 160 bills. Tomorrow the Governor will be signing into law a measure that will establish the Early Learning Advisory Board, another priority bill. For a list of the bills signed into law so far, visit capitol.hawaii.gov.
View high-resolution photos from today's bill signing ceremonies here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/neilabercrombie/sets/72157630318983486/