Hawaii’s capital city has set itself up to take advantage of its abundant solar energy with a recent bond measure that would fund a variety of renewable energy projects.Honolulu, Hawaii – June 7, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] The Honolulu City Council passed the final City budget, including a $7.85 million “solar” bond for clean energy and energy efficiency projects for city buildings. “The City Council deserves credit for making Honolulu among the first cities in the nation to dedicate bonds for clean energy projects,” said Naomi Arcand, Chair of the Sierra Club, O`ahu Group. “These bonds will fund solar and energy efficiency installations which will pay for themselves and save the city money, reduce air pollution, and provide good local jobs.” The solar bond will be used to fund a range of clean energy projects, from photovoltaic installations on city buildings, to more basic energy efficiency retrofits — such as lighting or air conditioning improvements — on municipal buildings island wide. The bond measure, dubbed the “Honolulu Solar Bond,” will be paid off through energy savings from the projects over time. Renewable and energy efficiency projects will likely be “bundled” to realize a fairly quick payback time while allowing for investment in more expensive renewable sources. The Honolulu Solar Bond seeks to replicate the successful $100 million solar bond passed in San Francisco by voters in November 2001. Adam Browning, Director of Operations for the Vote Solar Initiative, a San Francisco-based organization working to expand investment in solar energy, conducted an analysis of the bond proposal. He found that a balance of energy projects, paid for with the bond and properly structured financing, would save taxpayers upwards of $200,000 annually, with a net present value of around $2 million over the life of the project. “It’s not just good for the environment, but smart fiscal policy,” said Browning. “These projects save the city and county money, and provide a hedge against future energy price increases. It would be fiscally irresponsible not to do them.” Increased use of domestic, renewable energy could also hedge against energy price fluctuations in a state almost entirely dependent on energy imports. Vote Solar is working with city and state governments across the country on similar projects. “The bond will help stimulate the solar industry in Hawaii, and play a part in jumpstarting the transition to renewables across the country,” Browning said. “Cities are playing an important leadership role in the fight for energy independence and against global warming” Mayor Jeremy Harris included the solar bond in the administrative budget sent to the Council. The bond measure was championed in part by Councilmember Charles Djou. “The City Council should give full funding for the solar bond initiative because the bonds pay for themselves on the energy savings, and provide a hedge against future utility increases while supporting a reduction in fossil fuels,” said Mayor Harris earlier in the budget deliberations.