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Saturday, February 11, 2017
Most 2016 GEMS Loans Went to One Insider
By Andrew Walden @ 9:12 PM :: 1751 Views :: Energy, Ethics

7000-hawaii-kai1 7000 Hawaii Kai

by Andrew Walden

Touting its “biggest loan ever” Hawaii’s flailing $150M Green Energy Market Securitization Program (GEMS) scheme recently announced an $861,500 loan to pay for two solar installations on top of high-end rental units at 7000 Hawaii Kai Drive on Oahu. 

What they didn’t tell you:  The developer of 7000 Hawaii Kai, Christine Camp, is a board member of Blue Planet Foundation—the locus of green crony capitalism in Hawaii.  Blue Planet Foundation Executive Director, Jeff Mikulina, is vice chair of the Hawaii Green Infrastructure Authority (HGIA) which oversees the GEMS scheme. 

After pitching GEMS to the legislature as a scheme to benefit low income homeowners—paid for by a $1.29 per month charge on your electric bill--the program is quickly evolving into just another scam to shovel ratepayer money to rich political insiders and developers.

An August 26, 2016 DBEDT PUC filing sought to redirect GEMS funding to several new beneficiaries including “associations that administer apartments or condominiums….  result(ing) in a reduction of maintenance and common area fees for the association’s residents.”  Camp tells reporters: “We’re going to be paying 16 cents per kilowatt-hour.”  And who enjoys those savings?   The ‘affordable’ 3br units at 7000 Hawaii Kai go for $2635 a month.  

Just seven weeks later at the HGIA Loan Committee October 19, 2016, Camp’s loans were approved in spite of the fact that 7000 Hawaii Kai had not secured PUC approval for ‘grandfathering’ its Net Energy metering applications.  The State PUC subsequently rejected 7000 Hawaii Kai at its December 6, 2016 meeting on technical grounds. 

Insider trading is now part of GEMS sales pitch to the legislature.  According to minutes of Mikulina’s report to the HGIA Board December 23, 2016, “the Authority expects to end 2016 with more than $1.0 million in residential PV loans funded.”  Camp’s loan would be about 86% of that total. 

And what future does HGIA envision for GEMS?  More cronyism, of course.  In its 2016 Annual Report to the Legislature (pg4), HGIA explains it could write more loans if only its Board had more insiders:

“Board Needs More Energy Stakeholders. ... Changing the composition of the board to include more energy stakeholders would enable the Authority to react more quickly to market changes and deploy capital for green infrastructure investments in a timely manner to help meet the state’s clean energy goals and objectives.”

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