Regarding our energy future, he applauded Gov. Linda Lingle for her Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative, but said, “In the 1980s, we were 90 percent dependent on fossil fuels. Today, 30 years later, we’re still 90 percent dependent on fossil fuels.”
To help move toward energy independence, he developed his national award-winning “21st Century Ahupua‘a” initiative to create a culturally appropriate strategy to restore balance and sustainability. “It’s all about paying tribute to our Polynesian ancestors who managed their resources from the mountain to the sea. Then you couple it with the best practices of modern technology... to produce a new and better way of life,” he said.
Mufi thinks the root of our slow progress toward energy independence stems from too little collaboration with other counties. He plans to put us all on the same page “so the counties can identify what they can put on the table, what the state can put on the table, then we approach these potential investors.”
“We need to look at incentives to entice the private sector to come in...” and added, Hawai‘i is of “major interest to Japanese investors.”
Japan and the U.S. signed a bilateral agreement in June to explore the feasibility of a next-generation smart grid power transmission network to be tested in Okinawa and Hawai‘i.
“The Japanese have a lot of interest in it, because they too face the same problem. I think if we can help them, they can help us,” Hannemann commented.
He said he really wants to move this forward, “because if I can do it successfully, we’ll not only help ourselves, but going down the line, this could be a major conduit for Japanese investment in Hawai‘i.”
Mufi also spoke excitedly about the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference, which will be held in Honolulu in November of next year. APEC brings together leaders from 21 countries–including Japan–to discuss trade, investment and other economic issues. Local leaders hope the prestigious event will boost Hawai‘i’s stature as a place to do business.
“I think we can really move the needle forward if there is a collaborative effort from the get-go with the counties and the state all buying into it,” he concluded.