Hawaii wins “Race to the Top” efficiency award for 8th year


The nonprofit Energy Services Coalition (ESC) recognised Hawaii for the eighth consecutive year as the nation’s cumulative per capita leader for investment in state and county energy efficiency projects, which are helping Hawaii meet its clean energy goals.

Hawaii received the ESC’s 2019 “Race to the Top” award for its “outstanding commitment to energy efficiency, environmental stewardship and economic development through guaranteed energy savings performance contracting (GESPC).”

GESPC is a creative financing tool that enables building owners to use future energy savings to pay for costs of energy-saving projects, eliminating the need for upfront capital expenditures. Hawaii, with a cumulative investment of $372.81 per capita in energy performance contracts, outpaced second-place Washington State at $211.83 per capita.

For a full list of states, click here.

“The state is leading by example in using this innovative financing program to help fund its energy transformation to a carbon-neutral economy. In the process, we’re saving over a billion dollars in electricity costs. That’s a double win,” said Gov. David Ige.

Mike McCartney, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, said energy performance contracting demonstrates how Hawaii’s clean energy agenda helps the environment, creates good jobs, grows local businesses and reduces the amount of money sent overseas to buy imported oil. “Efficiency gains from these major projects are having a significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions while providing businesses a healthy return on investment,” McCartney said.

GESPC uses the savings from upgrades such as digital controls for energy systems, and lighting, plumbing and air conditioning improvements to repay the cost of the equipment and its installation. The Hawaii State Energy Office has been providing technical assistance to state and country agencies entering into energy performance contracts since 1996.

“With the US Green Building Council projecting greenhouse gas emissions from buildings to grow faster than any other sector over the next 25 years we need to do everything we can to make buildings more energy-efficient and climate-friendly,” said Carilyn Shon, the state’s Chief Energy Officer. “Government agencies are demonstrating that energy performance contracting is a cost-effective way to tackle the problem of carbon emissions while saving on energy bills.”

GESPC projects include office buildings, schools, hospitals, airports, highways, harbours, and prisons. In a typical energy performance contract, the building owner contracts with an energy service company to install the energy improvements and guarantee the energy savings over the contract term. The contractor is then paid out of the energy savings and captures the incentives made available by Hawaiʻi Energy to promote investment in energy efficiency.

Jim Arwood, executive director of the ESC, praised Hawaii and other states for their efforts to promote energy performance contracting. “It has been a wonderful experience working with the folks at the Hawai’i Energy Office and celebrating their success with our network of more than 30 state chapters located throughout the country,” Arwood, said. “The Hawaii program is a model of how to do things right.”

Related Stories:
‘2019 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard’ released
2019 utility energy storage report released
Hawai’i approves Energy Alliance-demand response initiative

Performance contracts signed by state and local government agencies in Hawaii since 1996 include 295 buildings and facilities covering more than 112 million square feet. The $507.1 million of energy performance contracts put in place will save the state an estimated $1.2 billion in electricity costs over the life of the contracts. Hawaii is one of only nine states that have surpassed the half-billion-dollar mark for cumulative investment in GESPC.

“Hawaii continues to be a national leader in clean energy and energy efficiency,” said Brian Kealoha, executive director of Hawai’i Energy. “Since 1996, Hawaii government agencies have saved, on average, more than 5 million kilowatt-hours a year, equating to over $24 million in savings, with the majority of this coming through energy performance contracts.”