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Maui County Energy Alliance Outlines a Sustainable Future

Release of working group recommendations provides a comprehensive overview of renewable, sustainable initiatives for Maui County. “We have made great strides…”

September 24, 2009
Sarah Ruppenthal

The five working groups of the MCEA include representatives from the County of Maui, Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB), Maui Community College, the U.S. Department of Energy and 78 volunteers from various public, private and government sectors. Determined to break the cycle of fossil fuel dependence, Mayor Charmaine Tavares established the MCEA in 2008, following the inaugural Maui County Energy Expo in 2007.

Alliance members were assigned to one of five working groups and tasked to review current energy trends impacting Maui County and develop viable strategies to reach the county’s goal of using 95 percent renewable sources by 2020. Each working group was assigned to a specific energy topic, including Renewable Resource Development, Energy and Transportation Infrastructure, Energy Efficiency and Conservation in County Facilities, Greenhouse Gases and Carbon Emissions and Green Workforce Development and Education. Over the course of one year, alliance members convened to discuss a range of energy topics, assessing past, present and future trends and statistics in order to design policies and actions to enhance further sustainability.

The results of these discussions can be found within the pages of “Sustainable Energy: Strategies for Implementation,” which reveals that it is indeed possible to reach the goal of 95 percent renewable energy for Maui County in 2020. However, the report stressed that we will need to take advantage of all available renewable resources—wind, solar, hydroelectric, biogas, geothermal—and expand these existing resources as new ones are being developed. In addition, the alliance emphasized the important role of conservation; specifically, discovering new—and improved—ways to conserve energy across Maui County.

Article Photos

Maui County Energy Alliance Working Group I Renewable Resource Development (left to right) members Mike Gresham, Jeff Stark, Cheryl Okuma, Harold Keyser, Lee Jakeway, Michael Clair, Scott Meidell, Warren Shibuya and Wayne Axelson meet to discuss their recommendations for Maui County’s energy independence.
Photo: County of Maui

Priority recommendations from the working groups include the development of an “Energy Infrastructure Master Plan;” a standardized report for county energy and resource consumption; a “Green Permit” program to encourage green building and LEED-certified building in private and public projects; and legislation “that strengthens the commitment of Maui and Hawai‘i to achieving energy goals by ensuring that stated targets are legal mandates, not merely recommendations.”

Additionally, the group members recommended that the county fund a “Maui Renewable Energy Trust” to support energy policy and planning; expand the Maui Bus system to encourage public transportation; provide energy audits to businesses to promote energy-efficiency; reduce fees for eco-friendly projects; and “lead by example by designing and implementing renewable energy production into its facilities.” County facilities could use inline hydro power, landfill gas energy conversion and landfill solid waste-to-energy, according to the report.

Other MCEA Working Group recommendations include the establishment of an annual renewable energy festival to heighten community awareness about the issue; developing a comprehensive strategy to identify and secure funding for green workforce development and sustainable energy education; expanding hydroelectric capabilities and building more wind farms.

At this year’s Energy Expo, members of the five MCEA Working Groups presented these recommendations during a three-hour session, encouraging commentary and suggestions from the public. According to Mayor Tavares, the input received during the session will be considered for integration into the county’s Energy Action Plan. She reminded attendees that the MCEA document is a work in progress, and more input is needed to secure a renewable energy future for Maui County.

The mayor also applauded the tireless efforts of the MCEA Working Group members. “The countless hours contributed by these volunteer members of the five working groups are deeply appreciated,” she said. “It is gratifying to have had the support of so many organizations, businesses and agencies.” In addition, Mayor Tavares said, “We will need to continue working together to meet the important goals we have set for energy efficiency and development of renewable energy from wind, solar and other sustainable sources… with the help of advanced technology and like-minded individuals who are committed to changing our dependence on imported fossil fuels, we have made great strides toward incorporating clean energy sources and reducing energy consumption—yet we have a long way to go. Our success is critical to our county’s future, and as stewards of our island home, we must continue our efforts in this race against time.”

For more information, or to view a copy of the Maui County Energy Alliance’s “Strategies for Implementation: Recommendations from the Working Groups,” visit www.mauicounty.gov/energyexpo.

 
 

 

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