By Nina Wu
Dressed in yellow T-shirts emblazoned with "Power to the People," nearly 300 individuals showed up at the Hawaii State Capitol today (Wednesday, March 20) in a show of support for renewable energy tax credits, casting a ray of "sunshine" on the floor of the Rotunda.
They included homeowners, business owners, the employees of more than 70 companies that belong to the nonprofit Hawaii Solar Energy Association, members of the Blue Planet Foundation, Sierra Club Hawaii and the Ulupono Initiative.
All were in support of keeping tax credits in place to help Hawaii reach its goals for a clean energy future.
HSEA president Gabriel Chong said: "These tax credits are accomplishing what they were created to do — make clean energy more accessible and more affordable to more people.
>> According to Chong, since the current tax credits began in 2009, photovoltaic installations in Hawaii have quadrupled, creating enough clean energy to power over 18,000 homes. In addition, with the help of incentives and rebates, Hawaii has the highest per capita solar hot water use in the nation, with over 90,000 solar hot water systems currently installed.
>> The renewable energy tax credits help our local economy. Over a quarter of all local construction jobs were generated by the solar industry in 2012, said HSEA executive director Leslie Cole-Brooks, citing an estimate from the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
>> Hawaii's solar tax credits enable families and businesses to free themselves from total dependence on electricity generated by burning oil, said Jeff Mikulina, executive director of the Blue Planet Foundation.
Last year, I watched as neighbors across the street, down the street and around my neighborhood installed solar PV panels on their rooftops. It's almost as if solar PV systems were blooming here and there and everywhere. This morning, I was happy to see workers installing a new solar water and solar PV array on another nearby neighbor's house.
If the renewable energy tax credits are working, then let's keep them going. It makes so much sense for Hawaii.