Therefore, I am establishing the Hawaii Refinery Task Force, a collaboration of government, energy industries and utilities – 27 interested stakeholders from various levels of government and private sector – to immediately work on short-term and long-term findings and recommendations prompted by Tesoro’s closure.
Reducing our dependence on imported oil will take an equal commitment from all of us.
Our new energy future, one that allows Hawaii to utilize and rely upon its fortunate circumstances and geography for renewable energy, is a long but necessary journey. We have already taken several proactive and affirmative steps down that road.
But along the way, we are facing financing hurdles and policy obstacles that require us to look not only at renewable energies, but current alternative energy sources that are available now. One of those is Liquefied Natural Gas or LNG. This is a resource that would allow us to purchase fuel from American sources, and not be reliant upon foreign sources, friendly or otherwise.
LNG will reduce energy costs, and reduce our carbon footprint because the resource is abundant, available, and the technology exists for us to use it now.
Our state, our residents, our constituents, our businesses and communities need relief. To do nothing puts everyone in the state at risk. Empty rhetoric and magical thinking avoids the question.
The data is clear; embarking on a path to LNG will result in long-term avoided costs - whether those costs are mandated improvements to utility facilities or imported low-sulfur fossil fuels at exponentially growing prices. The energy storm is on Hawaii's horizon. Will we take the necessary steps to weather it?
I ask the Legislature to move forward with us. There is no time to lose.
Likewise, there is a false controversy over renewable energy tax credits, and the interim administrative rules that were adopted. Reasonable limitations and controls upon expenditures, including any tax credits, have been critical to financial/fiscal management and our stable financial outlook. But more importantly, the lack of clarity and confusion by some gaming the system, created an uneven playing field for the renewable energy companies. It placed taxpayers, and even their expert accountants, in uncomfortable situations of not knowing whether they were following the tax law correctly.
This resulted in the unsustainable growth of the tax credit.
Therefore, I have asked my Department of Taxation to work with the Legislature to find the appropriate balance, and the proper amendments to the tax credit so that we can make the law fair for everyone, and maintain a sustainable incentive for the long-term.