GEMS Still Batting Zero
by Patricia Tummons, Environment Hawaii, December, 2015
For the first 10 months of its existence, the Green Energy Market Securitization program (GEMS), financed with $145 million in bonds to help underserved homeowners and renters obtain energy-saving technologies they are otherwise priced out of, issued no loans at all.
That is according to the latest report that the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism submitted to the Public Utilities Commission summarizing activities up to the conclusion of the third quarter of the program's operation, ending September 30. The total number of completed applications received since the program launched in November 2014 is 149, 43 of which were from non-profit organizations able to qualify for loans of more than $150,000. Forty-one of those were classified as "under review," while two were declined.
A total of 106 residential applications were received, 35 of which were declined, five withdrawn, and 66 "under review."
A financial summary reported that GEMS' current assets amounted to $145,891,273.34 as of September 30. Expenditures of $111,909.27 - all for the cost of administering the program -were offset by just $6,437.26 in interest.
But the "financial summary" does not tell the whole story. According to a worksheet that Hawaiian Electric gave DBEDT last May, from December, 2014 through June 30, the company anticipated that Green Infrastructure Fee collections from utility customers would total $7,976,862.60. That entire amount -- 45 percent of which comes from residential ratepayers - goes to pay the principal and interest on the GEMS bonds. By the year's end, the utility will need to collect $7,940,691.56 more to fulfill "revenue requirements" for GEMS.
Framed another way, GEMS has cost electric ratepayers more than $15 million since November of 2014. And as of September 30, the state had not one kilowatt of renewable energy installed to show for it.