Hawaii Passes Landmark Solar Roofs Bill
The Hawaii state legislature passed a landmark measure on May 1 that would make the state the first in the nation to require solar water heaters as a standard feature on all new homes. The solar roofs bill, which received unanimous support in the House and only two dissenting votes in the Senate, was the top priority of the Hawaii Sierra Club this legislative session.
"This is the type of transformative policy that will define Hawaii's clean energy future," says Hawaii Sierra Club Director Jeff Mikulina, above left. "The solar roofs bill brings the benefit of free sunshine to new homeowners across our islands. We are the Saudi Arabia of sun—every house in the state should be tapping into this free resource."
Earlier this year Hawaii governor Linda Lingle announced a goal of at least 70 percent renewable energy use in the state by 2030. "Achieving this goal is nearly impossible without widespread use of solar water heaters," Mikulina says. "The solar roofs bill is smart policy, sensibly crafted to smooth a transition toward zero-energy homes of the future."
Solar water heaters shave 30 to 40 percent off a home's electricity bill and greatly reduce residential greenhouse gas emissions. Advocates say the policy comes none too soon, as Hawaii faces the priciest electricity in the nation and clear threats from climate change.
Legislators rejected a bill to set lighting efficiency standards and create a compact fluorescent recycling program, and an in-store recycling bill that would have allowed customers to redeem their bottles and cans at retail stores of a certain size. Even so, says Mikulina, "Passing the solar roofs bill was the single biggest step the legislature took this year to increase Hawaii's energy security."