State and Local Policy Database


State Scorecard Rank



28.0Scored out of 50Updated 12/2020
State Government
Score: 2.5 out of 6
State Government Summary List All

Hawaii offers a loan to homeowners, businesses, nonprofits, and owners of multifamily buildings for investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The state government leads by example by benchmarking public buildings, requiring energy-efficient fleets, and encouraging the use of energy savings performance contracts. Hawaii is one of the few states with a residential energy-use disclosure policy. Research and development focused on energy efficiency is conducted at the University of Hawaii. In addition, Hawaii's state energy office recognizes and provides technical assistance to businesses for sustainable energy practices through its Green Business Program.

Financial Incentives List All

Financial Incentive information for Hawaii is provided by the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE Hawaii). The state does enable PACE, but it does not have any active PACE programs. For additional information on PACE, visit PACENation. Information about additional incentives not present on DSIRE is listed here.

The Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) program was developed to specifically provide affordable and accessible low-interest loan options to residential and commercial customers in Hawaii, with minimal barriers to entry in their pursuit of renewable energy and energy efficiency equipment and infrastructure. 

Last Updated: September 2018

Equity Metrics and Workforce DevelopmentList All

We were unable to determine if the state's energy plans or electrification strategies establish specific policies or equity-related metrics to ensure access for underserved customers or if they include specific measures to prioritize clean energy workforce development.

Last Updated: September 2020

Carbon Pricing PoliciesList All

The State of Hawaii does not yet have carbon pricing policies in place.

Last Reviewed: September 2020

Building Energy Disclosure List All
  • Building type(s) affected: residential

§508D-10.5 requires residential property owners to disclose energy-efficiency consumer information at the time of sale or lease.

Last Updated: July 2017

Public Building Requirements List All

Hawaii Revised Statutes 196-9 requires newly constructed or substantially renovated state owned facilities to be built to LEED Silver standards, but it is unclear if the policy specifically emphasizes energy efficiency points. Administrative Directive 06-01 (January 2006) states that newly constructed and renovated state buildings must adhere to LEED standards.

Hawaii Revised Statutes 196-30 addresses energy efficiency requirements for existing public buildings. By the end of 2010, state agencies were ordered to evaluate the energy efficiency of all existing public buildings that are larger than 5,000 square feet or use more than 8,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity or energy annually. Opportunities for increased energy efficiency must be identified by setting benchmarks for these buildings using Energy Star Portfolio Management or another similar tool. Buildings must be retro-commissioned every five years.

Hawaii completed a successful public benchmarking project with the support of DOE’s State Energy Program. Between 2014 and 2016, the state benchmarked 416 public facilities, including more than 2,600 buildings (some facilities like universities encompass multiple buildings) covering more than 29 million square feet. The benchmarking project found potential for all state agencies to save more than 56 million kilowatt hours annually—the equivalent to saving more than $25 million using current electricity rates.

Last Reviewed: September 2020

Fleets List All

House Bill 2175 calls for each agency to purchase the most fuel-efficient vehicles that meet the needs of their programs, provided that life-cycle cost-benefit analysis of vehicle purchases include projected fuel costs.  Eligible vehicles include those identified as a top performers for fuel economy in the U.S. EPA's "Fuel Economy Leaders" report.

Last Reviewed: September 2020

Energy Savings Performance Contracting List All

Hawaii Revised Statute 196-30 requires that “all agencies shall evaluate and identify for implementation energy efficiency retrofitting through performance contracting.” The ESPC program exists through the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism. Hawaii provides a manual that outlines and standardizes how to engage in an ESPC and outlines a list of prequalified ESCOs for state projects. The Energy Services Coalition reports that Hawaii spends more on energy performance contracting per capita than any other state.

Last year, Hawaii awarded the single largest ESPC in the United States to date, a $158 million contract to retrofit 12 of the state’s airports. The renovation is expected to result in 49% annual energy savings. The state’s airports division recently added a second phase to that project in March, bringing total guaranteed energy savings at Hawaii’s airports to more than $606 million over a 15-year period. In addition, Hawaii partnered in DOE’s Better Buildings ESPC Accelerator. The Accelerator catalyzed public-sector energy efficiency investments of more than $2 billion and left a legacy of valuable tools and resources behind.

Last Reviewed: September 2020

Research & Development List All

The Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii focuses on the development of technologies in the energy field. The Institute's work covers a wide range of research areas such as renewable energy, energy storage, energy-efficient buildings, fuel cells, grid systems, and transportation.

Last Updated: July 2017

Score: 7 out of 9
Buildings Summary List All

The State of Hawaii has adopted the 2015 IECC by Administrative Rule for commercial and residential buildings with state-specific amendments, however these have yet to be formally adopted at the county level.

Residential Codes List All

In July 2015, the Hawaii State Building Code Council adopted the 2015 IECC with state-specific amendments. The new codes took effect on July 1, 2015. However, until each county adopts the 2015 IECC, the counties of Hawaii, Maui, and Honolulu enforce the 2006 IECC; Kauai, the 2009 IECC. 

Last Reviewed: September 2019

Commercial Code List All

In July 2015, the Hawaii State Building Code Council adopted the 2015 IECC with state-specific amendments. The new codes took effect on July 1, 2015. However, until each county adopts the 2015 IECC, the counties of Hawaii, Maui, and Honolulu enforce the 2006 IECC; Kauai, the 2009 IECC. 

Last Reviewed: September 2019

Compliance List All
  • Gap Analysis/Strategic Compliance Plan: NA
  • Baseline & Updated Compliance Studies: The Hawaii Energy Office completed an energy codes compliance study in 2018.
  • Utility Involvement: NA
  • Stakeholder Advisory Group: The Hawaii Building Code Council was created by the State Legislature in 2007 to promulgate updated codes in accord with national three-year code cycles, and regularly convenes stakeholders to discuss relevant issues.
  • Training/Outreach: The Hawaii State Energy Office (SEO), working with various counties, has provided a number of training workshops. Through its website, the SEO also provides building code information and training materials provided at the workshops.

Last Updated: September 2019

CHP Summary List All

The state includes CHP as an eligible resource within its renewable energy standard, but otherwise has limited policies to encourage CHP. One new CHP system was installed in 2018.

Interconnection StandardsList All

Policy: Hawaii Public Utilities Commission Order 24159

Description: In April 2008, The Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO), Hawaii’s largest electric utility, adopted, by order 24159, enhanced and improved interconnection regulations for distributed generation. Order 24159 makes changes to the existing interconnection standard applicable to HECO, Rule 14H. The new rules do not explicitly state that CHP is an eligible technology. The standard, which is based upon the IEEE 1547 standard, offers no explicit limit on size of system, but there are clearly expedited processes for systems smaller than 100kW.

Last Updated: August 2017

Encouraging CHP as a ResourceList All

CHP in energy efficiency standards:  In 2004, SB 2474 expanded its existing renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to include “electric energy savings brought about by the use of energy efficiency technologies,” which includes CHP. The most recent amendments to the RPS became effective in July 2009. Under the standard, 40% of the state’s electricity must be generated by renewable electrical energy resources by 2030.  Savings from energy efficiency programs and CHP (among other measures) could count towards meeting up to 50% of the standard through 2014, but after 2015, these savings no longer count toward Hawaii’s RPS, and will instead count towards Hawaii’s Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS), which was established in 2009 with the passage of HB 1464. The legislation set a goal of 4,300 gigawatt-hour (GWh) reduction in electricity use by 2030, but final rules for the EEPS have not yet been established.

Last Updated: August 2017

Deployment IncentivesList All

Incentives, grants, or financing: In July 2013, Hawaii enacted legislation allowing the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism to issue Green Infrastructure Bonds for clean energy installations, including CHP.

Net metering: Small biomass energy systems are eligible for net metering in Hawaii, with a size limit of 100kW for customers of most utilities. CHP is not explicitly listed as an eligible technology.

Last Updated: August 2017

Additional Supportive PoliciesList All

Some additional supportive policies exist to encourage CHP in Hawaii. The state’s RPS, which sets a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045, encourages the use of biogas, including landfill and sewage-based digester gas, biomass, and other opportunity fuels that may be used to power CHP.

Last Updated: August 2017

Score: 11 out of 20
Utilities Summary List All

Hawaii has increased their utility-sector energy efficiency program offerings in recent years. The Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO), the largest investor-owned utility in the state, has offered energy efficiency programs since the mid-1990s. In July 2009, Hawaii consolidated the energy efficiency programs of most of its electric utilities into a single program operated by a third-party contractor, Leidos. Hawaii has two major electric utility companies—HECO and the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC).  HECO’s customers support the energy efficiency programs through a public benefits charge and KIUC operates its customer energy efficiency programs independently. Hawaii uses very little natural gas, and does not have any natural gas energy efficiency programs.

Hawaii is collaborating with the United States Department of Energy to achieve the goal of supplying 70% of the state’s energy needs through renewable energy and energy efficiency programs by 2030. Hawaii’s public utilities commission has also adopted an energy efficiency portfolio standard (Docket No. 2010-0037) with a goal of achieving 4,300 GWh of energy savings by 2030.

Hawaii has decoupling in place and offers energy efficiency shareholder incentives for electric utilities.

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Last updated: August 2018

Customer Energy Efficiency Programs List All

Hawaii signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the federal Department of Energy in 2008. This MOU established the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, a long-term partnership between Hawaii and the DOE. This partnership will advance energy efficiency and renewable energy in Hawaii with the goal of supplying 70% of the state’s energy needs by 2030.

In 2009, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (HPUC) contracted with a third party, Leidos, to administer Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO)’s programs. The program is now called Hawaii Energy. Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) operates its programs independently. Hawaii does not provide natural gas energy efficiency programs.

Ratepayers who are customers of HECO support Hawaii’s consolidated energy efficiency programs by paying a public benefits fee. Hawaii Public Utilities Commission Docket No. 2007-0323 outlines the structure of the public benefits fund. KIUC operates its programs independently. Costs are recovered by utility rates set by the Cooperative’s directors.

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Last Updated: August 2018

Energy Efficiency as a Resource List All

In 2008, Hawaii began incorporating scenario planning as part of its revised Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) framework. The revisions were a result of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI), a Memorandum of Understanding between the Governor of the State of Hawaii and the U.S. Department of Energy. Signed in January 2008, the MOU has the goal of decreasing energy demand and accelerating use of renewable, indigenous energy resources in Hawaii in residential, building, industrial, utility, and transportation end-use sectors so that efficiency and renewable energy sources will meet 70% of Hawaii’s energy demand by 2030. Of the 70% target, 30% is to come from energy efficiency measures, and 40% is to be obtained from renewable sources.  Specifically, the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard is 4,300 GWh reduction of electricity by 2030, with interim goals to be achieved in 2015, 2020, and 2025.  

The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) suspended the IRP dockets for Hawaii’s utilities but reopened the IRP for Hawaii Electric Company (HECO) in 2012 (Docket No. 2012-0036 Order No. 30233). Hawaii Electric Company (HECO) filed its most recent IRP with the public utility commission in June 2013, covering the planning period 2014-2033.

Utilities incorporate the energy efficiency targets of the state’s Public Benefits Fund within their IRPs.

Last Updated: August 2018

Energy Efficiency Resource Standards List All

Summary: Cumulative electricity savings of 4,300 GWh by 2030 (equal to approximately 30% of forecast electricity sales, or 1.4% annual savings).

Hawaii’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) was codified in HRS §269-91, et seq. and amended in 2006, 2008, and 2009. The RPS requires investor-owned utilities and rural electric cooperative utilities to use “renewable electrical energy” to meet 10% of net electricity sales by the end of 2010, 15% by 2015, 25% by 2020, and 40% by 2030. Savings from energy efficiency programs and combined heat and power systems (among other measures) may count towards meeting up to 50% of the standard through 2014. The Public Utilities Commission may assess penalties against a utility for failing to meet the RPS, unless the failure was beyond the reasonable control of the utility.  

Beginning in 2015, electrical energy savings will no longer be able to count toward Hawaii’s RPS and will instead count towards Hawaii’s Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS), which was established in 2009 with the passage of HR 1464. Hawaii's EEPS sets a goal to reduce electricity consumption by 4,300 GWh by 2030 (equal to approximately 30% of forecast electricity sales, or 1.4% annual savings). Renewable displacement or offset technologies, including solar water heating and sea-water air-conditioning district cooling systems, count towards the EEPS after 2015.

The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) must establish interim goals to be achieved by 2015, 2020, and 2025, and may adjust the 2030 standard to maximize cost-effective energy efficiency programs and technologies. The PUC has yet to establish rules for the stand-alone EEPS, including eligible technologies; responsibility for doing so falls on the EEPS Technical Working Group established in 2012. Current energy efficiency targets in Hawaii are set in HI PUC Order, Docket No. 2010-0037 and are subject to revision.

Hawaii has no energy efficiency resource standard in place for natural gas due to the fact that natural gas plays only a minimal role in the state's overall energy portfolio.

Last Updated: August 2018

Utility Business Model List All

In October 2008, an order was issued to investigate implementing a decoupling mechanism similar to the one used in California. In August 2010, the Hawaii PUC issued its final Decision and Order approving the implementation of the decoupling mechanism for the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO). Utilities are required to report on their performance of commitments made in the energy agreement in their rate cases as the basis for review, modification, continuation, or possible termination of the decoupling mechanism (See HI Docket 2008-0274 Order dated Aug.31, 2010).

In July 2009 Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) transferred administration of its energy efficiency programs to a third-party “Public Benefits Fee” administrator. The governor’s office claimed: “Moving energy efficiency programs to an independent third party will remove the perceived conflict between the electric utilities' desire to sell more electricity to increase profitability and the desire to implement energy efficiency programs that will decrease electricity sales.” The third-party contractor (Hawaii Energy) negotiated to run HECO's energy efficiency program is compensated by the Commission for satisfactory performance of its contract (See Hawaii Energy Executive Summary in Annual Report PY 2009). 

The Gas Company (TGC) and Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) are subject to the Renewable Portfolio Standard but are excluded from DSM utility incentives. TGC does not currently operate any DSM programs and KIUC has not requested incentives. The most recent bill establishing an Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS) allows the PUC to establish incentives and penalties based on performance in achieving the EEPS.

Last Updated: August 2018

Evaluation, Measurement, & Verification List All
  • Primary cost-effectiveness test(s) used: total resource cost test 

The evaluation of ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs in Hawaii relies on legislative mandates (HRS § 269-124(7)). Evaluations are administered by Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. Hawaii has established formal rules and procedures for evaluation. Statewide evaluations are conducted.

According to the Database of State Efficiency Screening Practices (DSESP), Hawaii relies on the Total Resource Cost Test (TRC) as its primary cost-effectiveness test. Hawaii’s TRC accounts for avoided participant costs. The rules for benefit-cost tests are stated in HRS § 269-124(7). These benefit-cost tests are required for overall portfolio screening.

Further information on cost-effectiveness screening practices for Hawaii is available in the Database of State Efficiency Screening Practices (DSESP), a resource of the National Efficiency Screening Project (NESP).

Last Updated: May 2019

Guidelines for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs List All

Requirements for State and Utility Support of Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

No legislative mandate, but PUC has given guidance and required in the Triennial Plan approximately 21% of the funding is going to "affordability and accessibilty - Hard To Reach" categories, which include low-income populations.  COVID-response planning also increases focus in this area for PY20.

Hawaii Energy's 2019-2021 Triennial Plan does however include performance indicators for Customer Equity (island equity), and Affordability & Accessibility categories; with particular focus on low-income and ALICE (Asset-limited Income Constrained Employed) populations.

Cost-Effectiveness Rules for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

No specific adjustments or exceptions to general cost-effectiveness rules are in place for low-income programs.

Coordination of Ratepayer-Funded Low-Income Programs with WAP Services

Level of coordination is unclear from publicly available data.

Last Updated: June 2020

Self Direct and Opt-Out Programs List All

Hawaii does not allow for large customers to self-direct the funds they would have paid for energy efficiency, nor to opt-out entirely from participating in energy efficiency programs. 

Last updated: August 2018

Data AccessList All

Hawaii has no policy in place that requires utilities to release energy use data to customers or third parties. 

Last Updated: August 2018

Score: 6 out of 12
Transportation Summary List All

The state integrates transportation and land use planning and has passed complete streets legislation, but has not pursued other energy-efficient transportation policies.

Tailpipe Emission Standards List All

No policy in place or proposed.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Transportation System Efficiency List All

Transportation and Land use Integration: In 1961 Hawaii become the first state to implement growth management legislation in the United States when it adopted the State Land Use Law. The purpose of the law was to limit development of scattered subdivisions which in turn led to poorly planned public amenities and increased conversion of prime agricultural land for residential uses. Administration of the regulation is overseen by the state Land Use Commission, which determines district boundaries and also approves the implementation of new development projects. All state lands are classified as one of four districts for the purpose of regulation: urban, rural, agricultural, and conservation.

VMT Targets: No policy in place or proposed.

Complete Streets: In 2009, the state adopted SB 718, which included complete streets language calling on county transportation departments to improve access and mobility for all pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users and motorists.

FAST Freight Plans and Goals: No freight plan or goals in place.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Transit Funding List All

Section HRS 46-16.8 of the Hawaiian Statutes allows municipalities to add a county surcharge on state tax that is then funneled towards mass transit projects.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Incentives for High-Efficiency Vehicles List All

No policy in place or proposed.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Equitable Access to TransportationList All
Hawaii does not have any state programs in place to incentivize the creation of low-income housing near transit facilities, but it does consider the proximity of transit facilities when distributing federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to qualifying property owners. Last Reviewed: July 2019
Appliance Standards
Score: 1.5 out of 3
Appliance Standards Summary List All

Hawaii adopted appliance standards for five products in 2019 and adopted a backstop to adopt federal standards in case they are repealed

Last Updated: July 2019

State Appliance Standards List All

Products adopted in 2019: computers and monitors, faucets, showerheads, high CRI fluorescent lamps, and spray sprinkler bodies