Hawai‘i Energy has introduced a number of programs to help consumers save energy and money. Cohort III Fellows Brian Kealoha, executive director of Hawai‘i Energy, and Stephany Vaioleti, manager of Hawai‘i Energy's Accessibility and Affordability program share about some of their programs that have helped improve access to energy efficiency.
Contributed by Brian Kealoha & Stephany Vaioleti, Cohort III
At Hawai‘i Energy, our mission is to empower island families and businesses to make smarter energy choices to reduce energy consumption, save money, and pursue a 100% clean energy future. As we celebrate Earth Month and the critical part that energy usage plays in our efforts to combat climate change, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that adopting energy-efficient technologies isn’t without challenges – access and affordability being the biggest for many in Hawai‘i.
COVID-19 forced many residents and businesses to evaluate their energy usage like never before, and created a greater need to support our whole community with education and funding around energy efficiency. We established the Energy Relief Grant last August to fund commercial energy efficiency improvements and positively impact vendors and contractors. Since the launch, we’ve awarded over $2 million to 251 organizations on Oʻahu, Maui County, and the Big Island, a majority of whom are nonprofits and small businesses.
Many residents have also taken advantage of our Energy Smart 4 Homes service, which provides free in-home installations of LED lightbulbs, high-efficiency showerheads and aerators, and advanced power strips. Coupled with appliance trade-in events (where new ENERGY STAR® models are provided at reduced prices thanks to bulk purchase agreements with retailers), low-to-median income customers in North Kohala, Waimānalo and Ko‘olauloa, now have ample resources to achieve high energy savings.
Looking ahead, we’re continuing to ensure everyone is equipped to cut energy waste in our lives, and to seeing how else Hawai‘i Energy can make that easy for you. For more information on us and the work we’re doing, visit HawaiiEnergy.com.
Cohort II Fellow Maxine Burkett, co-founder of Institute for Climate and Peace (ICP) and law professor, shares that 2021 is a critical year to equip decision makers at all scales with the tools needed to respond to the climate crisis and build social cohesion through locally-based and culturally-appropriate responses.