Since the loss of sugar, agriculture in the First District has struggled due to the high cost of electricity and imported oil. To stimulate the economy we must encourage investment in energy self-sufficiency. By nurturing a source of cheaper, reliable energy that is not susceptible to the world oil market, we will be able to provide the advantage necessary to grow our economy and support agri-business.
This session, I am supporting legislation that will encourage the exploration and development of new geothermal sources. In this way, we will be able to remove our dependance on imported oil to provide for our electricity needs. Annually, the Big Island exports $1 billion to bring in the oil needed to run out electrical generators. Geothermal energy has the potential to cut our electric bills in half and the $30-50 that you save monthly will mean that most of the $1 billion will stay right here on Hawaii Island.
Moving forward hand in hand with the renewable energy effort is the production of hydrogen. Hydrogen is already being made from renewable energy in a partnership with the United Stated Department of Energy, the University of Hawaii and Joint Base Hickam Pearl Harbor where a fleet of hydrogen powered SUV's are undergoing field testing. CM Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell SUV's have been available for limited distribution since 2007 and are currently undergoing road testing in Hawaii by the military.
The hydrogen for these vehicles are being made by an hydrogen electrolyzer that is being run off of a photovoltaic system. The electrolyzer separates water into oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen is then captured and used to fuel the vehicles. In this way, the entire system is based on renewable energy and is fossil fuel free.
Coupled with this geothermal and other renewable energy hydrogen can be a reliable replacement for gasoline.