The Green Leaf

Sierra Club launches solar campaign

January 9th, 2013
The state is far from reaching its goal of 70 percent renewables by 2030. Only 2 percent of Hawaii is solar-powered. Photo courtesy of

Less than 2 percent of Hawaii is solar-powered, according to the Sierra Club, which is challenging the governor to hold off on slashing tax incentives. Photo from

The Sierra Club is taking on Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie for cutting the amount of state tax credits available to homeowners and businesses installing solar electric systems with a media campaign it unveiled today.

Under the Hawaii Department of Taxation's new interpretation of the solar credit — which went into effect Jan. 1 — the availability of Hawaii's average renewable energy tax credit for solar PV systems will be reduced by about 50 percent.

The Sierra Club, which also filed a lawsuit challenging the new solar tax credit limits, features "Sonny the Solar Panel" standing in an unemployment line in its media campaign. Listen to an audio clip here.

Sonny stands in line at the unemployment office, lamenting the "good career" he had here in Hawaii until Gov. Abercrombie "went behind the back of the state legislature and single-handedly slashed those tax credits..."

Sonny points out that less than two percent of Hawaii's energy comes from solar and alleges that Abercrombie's "reckless action is putting a brand new industry and thousands of clean energy jobs at risk."

The Sierra Club is also asking members of the public to send a message to Gov. Abercrombie, asking him to hold off on his executive rules and find a solution instead that preserves green jobs, clean energy growth and the ability for people to move off of oil at

A total of 24 states offer tax incentives for solar electric systems, according to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE). Hawaii is generous, but Louisiana is even more generous. This article from The Pew Center on the States points out that while solar tax credits are being blamed, Hawaii lacks a reliable analysis of the renewable energy credit's future fiscal impact.

On another note, congratulations to Keauhou Shopping Center owned by Kamehameha Schools, which installed a 376-KW system on seven buildings, which should offset about 455 tons of CO2 a year. Kamehameha Schools went with a SurePath Solar power purchase agreement from Tioga Energy. The system was installed by Honolulu-based Hoku Solar.

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