Sierra Club                      Testimony Regarding SB 1372                                         Page 2         (Act 2...
Sierra Club                   Testimony Regarding SB 1372                         Page 3It would quite simple to stop this...
Sierra Club                  Testimony Regarding SB 1372                        Page 4       means a gas-tankless instanta...
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Sierra Club Testimony on SB1372


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Sierra Club Testimony on SB1372

  1. 1. SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT SENATE COMMITTEE ON WATER, LAND, AND HOUSING SENATE COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY, GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS, AND MILITARY AFFAIRS February 10, 2011, 3:30 P.M. (Testimony is 4 pages long) TESTIMONY IN OPPOSITION TO SB 1372 WITH PROPOSED AMENDMENTSAloha Chair Gabbard, Chair Espero and Members of the Committees: e Hawai`i Chapter of the Sierra Club, with 8,000 dues-paying members and supporters,opposes SB 1372 and offers amendments that better ful ll the intent of the historic Solar RoofAct. SB 1372, in its present form, would delegate the responsibility of certifying solar varianceexception requests to the various counties. e 2008 Solar Roofs Act was a historic rst that attempted to allow every new homeowner thebene ts of solar water heating. is Legislature recognized that solar water heaters are one of themost effective ways to reduce high electricity bills -- slashing the average utility bill by 30 to 40percent. When these systems are installed during construction, solar water heaters are lessexpensive then an electric heater retro t and avoid the need for tax incentives.Our current law provides for four variances to the “mandatory” solar hot water heater. e rsttwo provide for a variance if the installation of a solar heater would be inefficient (i.e., thelocation is too shady) or cost prohibitive. e third variance allows for a “substitute renewableenergy technology,” i.e., it allows for future technology to be installed. e fourth variance, however, is really not a variance. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 196-6.5 simply allows forthe installation of a gas water heater. us, our law currently mandates the use of either a solar ora gas water heater.Recognizing that gas water heaters are not as economic or as efficient as solar hot water heaters,this Legislature expressed a strong intent to avoid the granting of a variance: It is the intent of the legislature that the variances provided for in Act 204, Session Laws of Hawaii 2008, Recycled Content Robert D. Harris, Director
  2. 2. Sierra Club Testimony Regarding SB 1372 Page 2 (Act 204) will be rarely, if ever, exercised or granted because the burden of proof will lie with the applicant to demonstrate that a solar water heater system, regardless of location or circumstance, is not cost effective in the context of a thirty-year mortgage term. This requires the use of realistic assumptions regarding interest rates, discount rates, inflation rates, and the expected average cost of electricity by island over the thirty-year period, regardless of the cost of electricity, or of oil or other fossil fuels, at a specific time.Act (emphasis added).Unfortunately, this strong expression of intent has not been followed. As reported in the CivilBeat (Michael Levine 11/11/2010) and later in the Honolulu StarAdvertiser, a signi cantnumber of developers have utilized the “gaping loophole” in the Solar Roof Act. Within the rstyear of this Solar Roof Act, twenty ve percent of homes failed to install solar. Nearly half of thenew homes on the Big Island -- 303 of 660 -- installed gas-powered heaters instead of solar. Onedeveloper reported that variances were “granted as a matter of course, as I understand it.”1 Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Total Variance RequestsHonolulu 3 2 4 2 1 0 3 0 0 3 11 22 51Kauai 7 4 10 10 38 3 1 3 2 4 7 4 93Maui 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 1 3 8Hawaii 9 21 25 32 16 22 28 24 40 24 23 39 303Unknown 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2Total 19 28 39 44 55 25 32 28 44 31 44 68 457 Single-Family Building PermitsHonolulu 33 54 50 106 108 52 51 53 111 91 48 58 815Kauai 16 8 14 11 46 11 9 25 7 8 15 14 184Maui 19 18 15 27 13 22 19 24 14 14 12 18 215Hawaii 50 67 46 57 40 71 64 43 67 49 57 49 660Total 118 147 125 201 207 156 143 145 199 162 132 139 1874 Ratio of Variances to Permits IssuedHonolulu 9.1% 3.7% 8.0% 1.9% 0.9% 0.0% 5.9% 0.0% 0.0% 3.3% 22.9% 37.9% 6.3%Kauai 43.8% 50.0% 71.4% 90.9% 82.6% 27.3% 11.1% 12.0% 28.6% 50.0% 46.7% 28.6% 50.5%Maui 0.0% 5.6% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 4.2% 14.3% 0.0% 8.3% 16.7% 3.7%Hawaii 18.0% 31.3% 54.3% 56.1% 40.0% 31.0% 43.8% 55.8% 59.7% 49.0% 40.4% 79.6% 45.9%Total 16.1% 19.0% 31.2% 21.9% 26.6% 16.0% 22.4% 19.3% 22.1% 19.1% 33.3% 48.9% 24.4%1Civil Beat, “State Allows Developers to Flout Solar Mandate,” available at Recycled Content Robert D. Harris, Director
  3. 3. Sierra Club Testimony Regarding SB 1372 Page 3It would quite simple to stop this abuse of the Solar Roof Act.We could amend SB 1372 to ful ll the intent of this Legislature by giving the coordinator thediscretion and responsibility to review variance applications. is allows the coordinator to grantthe variance in legitimate situations -- like a infrequently-used vacation rental house -- and denydevelopers that are simply trying to out the intent of the law, namely to ensure Hawai‘iresidents obtain the cleanest and cheapest form of energy.Proposed Amendments: §196-6.5 Solar water heater system required for new single-family residential construction. (a) On or after January 1, 2010, no building permit shall be issued for a new single-family dwelling that does not include a solar water heater system that meets the standards established pursuant to section 269-44, unless[, at the coordinator’s discretion,] the coordinator approves a variance[ is approved]. A variance application shall only be accepted if submitted by an architect or mechanical engineer licensed under chapter 464, who attests that: (1) Installation is impracticable due to poor solar resource; (2) Installation is cost-prohibitive based upon a life cycle cost-benefit analysis that incorporates the average residential utility bill and the cost of the new solar water heater system with a life cycle that does not exceed fifteen years; (3) A renewable energy technology system, as defined in section 235-12.5, is substituted for use as the primary energy source for heating water; or (4) A demand water heater device approved by [Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., is] a North American certification entity will be installed that would better address the state’s renewable energy goals expressed in section 269-92 because of unique aspects of the proposed single-family dwelling; provided that at least one other gas appliance, not including decorative lighting or outdoor grilling equipment, [is] will be installed in the dwelling. For the purposes of this paragraph, "demand water heater" Recycled Content Robert D. Harris, Director
  4. 4. Sierra Club Testimony Regarding SB 1372 Page 4 means a gas-tankless instantaneous water heater that provides hot water only as it is needed. (b) A request for a variance shall be submitted to the coordinator on an application prescribed by the coordinator and shall include the name of the dwelling owner, a description of the location of the property, and justification for the approval of a variance using the criteria established in subsection (a). A variance shall be deemed approved if not denied within thirty working days after receipt of the variance application. The coordinator shall publicize: (1) All applications for a variance within seven days after receipt of the variance application; and (2) The disposition of all applications for a variance within seven days of the determination of the variance application. (c) The director of business, economic development, and tourism may adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91 to impose and collect fees to cover the costs of administering variances under this section. The fees, if any, shall be deposited into the energy security special fund established under section 201-12.8. (d) Nothing in this section shall preclude any county from establishing procedures and standards required to implement this section. (e) Nothing in this section shall preclude participation in any utility demand-side management program or public benefits fee program under part VII of chapter 269. e solar mandate was a critical step in securing Hawaii’s energy future, reducing ourcontribution to global climate change, and improving the affordability of housing in Hawai‘i.Respectfully, we ask this Committee to reject 25% or 50% success, and instead ensure a solarwater heater on each and every home in Hawai`i.Mahalo for the opportunity to provide testimony. Recycled Content Robert D. Harris, Director