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Gov. Linda Lingle, R-Hawaii, has signed into law three bills designed to increase renewable energy generation and reduce the state's dependence on imported oil.

Two of the bills will provide assistance to renewable energy project developers in dealing with Hawaii's complex permitting process. The third bill authorizes the Department of Agriculture to offer a new class of loans in its agricultural and aquaculture loan programs to encourage farmers to contribute to the production of alternative sources of energy.

"This set of legislation is another important step in our long-term plan for energy independence in Hawaii," says Lingle. "As we continue to work toward achieving our goal of having 70 percent clean energy in Hawaii by 2030, these new laws will make it easier for businesses to invest in renewable energy projects."

HB2863 HD2 SD2 CD1, Relating to Renewable Energy, which becomes Act 207, establishes new responsibilities for the director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) as the state's energy resources coordinator. This position will create a streamlined permitting process that includes state and county permits required for the siting, development, construction and operation of a new renewable energy facility of at least 200 MW of electricity.

HB2505 HD2 SD2 CD1, Relating to Energy, which becomes Act 208, establishes a full-time renewable energy facilitator position in the DBEDT. The facilitator's duties will include facilitating existing permits, proposing changes to the permit process and coordinating energy projects.

HB2261 HD2 SD1, Relating to Agricultural Loans, which becomes Act 209, establishes a new class of loans that will help farmers create their own power for their operations, thus helping to preserve the future of farming and aquaculture in the state. The bill expands the state's existing agricultural and aquaculture loan programs to allow farmers to develop renewable energy for their farms using renewable sources such as photovoltaics, hydro, wind, methane, biodiesel and ethanol.

SOURCE: Office of Gov. Linda Lingle

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