Council committee moves out Energy Code bill

By Gordon Y.K. Pang  February 28, 2020

Oahu builders will have to make a certain number of parking stalls ready for electric vehicle charging and install solar hot water heaters in new residences under a major energy conservation bill poised for a final vote of the Honolulu City Council next month.

After months of wrangling — marked by intense lobbying at Honolulu Hale by special interests — the Council Zoning, Planning and Housing Committee voted Thursday to move out Bill 25 (2019), a revised Energy Conservation Code that’s been pushed by Mayor Kirk Caldwell and his administration.

The original draft of the bill was applauded by environmental groups, which argued that Honolulu is far behind other municipalities when it comes to fighting the impacts of global warming and climate change.

Oahu builders will have to make a certain number of parking stalls ready for electric vehicle charging and install solar hot water heaters in new residences under a major energy conservation bill poised for a final vote of the Honolulu City Council next month.

After months of wrangling — marked by intense lobbying at Honolulu Hale by special interests — the Council Zoning, Planning and Housing Committee voted Thursday to move out Bill 25 (2019), a revised Energy Conservation Code that’s been pushed by Mayor Kirk Caldwell and his administration.

The original draft of the bill was applauded by environmental groups, which argued that Honolulu is far behind other municipalities when it comes to fighting the impacts of global warming and climate change.

While breaks on the number of EV-ready stalls were being proposed at the start of Thursday’s meeting for houses aimed at those making at or below 80% of area median income, Nathaniel Kinney of the Hawaii Construction Alliance lobbied to allow more substantial breaks for homes for those between 80% and 140% AMI.

While helping workforce families in the “gap group” income level, “none of those projects receive any sort of government subsidy, unlike lower income 60% and below AMI. … The margins on rental affordable housing is razor thin,” he said.

But Menor scoffed at the notion that homes aimed at those making 140% AMI could be considered affordable housing. In the bill that finally passed Thursday, units being constructed for those between 100%-140% AMI will now be required to make 20% of its stalls EV-ready.

Instead, after hearing from Karen Seddon, regional vice president of affordable home builder Michaels Development, the committee decided to do away with all EV-ready stall requirements for units aimed at those making 100% AMI and below.

That didn’t sit well with Jeff Mikulina, executive director of the Blue Planet Foundation, who said those concessions were just the latest in a string of givebacks Council members made to special interests that weakened the bill originally proposed by the administration.

The committee “had the opportunity to pass a measure that would substantially reduce the long-term cost for homeowners, businesses and especially renters while reducing our island’s contribution to climate change, but instead it chose to adopt a developer- drafted version that does little to advance either goal,” Mikulina said.

REVISED ENERGY CONSERVATION CODE

If Bill 25 passes, the following requirements will have to be met:

>> Solar hot water heaters required in new single- family homes unless a variance obtained from the Energy Division of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

>> A minimum of 25% of parking stalls required in new multifamily buildings required to have conduits allowing for connection of EV Level 2 chargers. Builders of “affordable” multifamily units would be completely exempt, while builders may also qualify to build fewer EV-ready stalls for other concessions. Single-family residential units must have dedicated outlets with Level 2 charge. Commercial buildings must make 20% of new stalls EV-ready.

Source: City and County of Honolulu

Original: https://www.staradvertiser.com/2020/02/28/hawaii-news/council-committee-moves-out-energy-code-bill/