In attempting to advance its case for freedom from the yoke of the Public Utilities Commission, the Hawai`i Green Infrastructure Authority throws shade on “clean energy advocates,” who, it would seem, don’t understand the real motivation of “low and moderate income consumers (who may need to replace a broken hot water heater).”
An unnamed program officer with HERO PACE, a subsidiary of Renovate America, a private firm that finances energy efficiency technology and other improvements, explained that these consumers “are more concerned about meeting their immediate need quickly, easily, and conveniently with a loan that they can afford than necessarily being environmentally friendly,” HGIA says, paraphrasing the officer in its request for relief from PUC oversight filed in July. That program officer is then quoted directly, “Even if a financing option is being offered at a better rate or a product is being offered at a better price, the consumer will opt for another lender or another product (as an example, an electric water heater versus a solar hot water heater) if there are too many hurdles to overcome.”
It isn’t clear how this observation works into HGIA’s argument for relief from the onus of PUC oversight, but it does suggest that HGIA regards clean energy advocates as somehow working against the interests of low and moderate income consumers.
The same HERO PACE program officer credited the company’s success to “a reliance on the competitive market economy to drive fair and competitive prices for consumers … and, most importantly, the elimination of barriers (including well-intentioned but unnecessary regulation and/or program requirements).” Unlike HGIA, HERO PACE is not a government agency, where oversight and regulation might be more appropriate; rather, it issues loans that are secured through future property tax payments. (HERO PACE, it should be noted, has recently come under scrutiny for failure to disclose underperforming loans. It has also drawn fire for not basing loans on consumers’ ability to pay but rather on their equity in the property being improved.)
— Patricia Tummons