Building on the Unique Geography of Hawaii’s Second District to Strengthen Our Economy

Today I had the opportunity to join other candidates for US Congress and US Senate to discuss venture capital and high tech opportunities. One of the questions panelists were asked to answer related to our ideas for creating new industries in the state. Below is a more detailed version of the answer I gave.

One of my ideas for strengthening our economy would be to build on our district’s unique geography. If elected to Congress, I would work with the federal departments of energy, commerce, and transportation to facilitate the investment of federal renewable energy dollars from other states in Hawaii.

Larger states like California have access to quite a bit more federal renewable energy dollars than we have in our state. However, because of our discrete island geography, we have small isolated energy, transportation, and telecommunications grids. This makes it possible to test new technologies in these fields — — as well as the integration of the technologies within the systems — in a real world setting.

To give an example, while Hawaii has a 100% renewable energy goal by 2045 — the most ambitious in the nation — the rest of the country is also working toward similar goals. One example of systems integration that is being looked at right now relates to utilizing wind power that currently gets dumped during low-demand periods to charge electric vehicles. A potential solution is to charge rental car fleets during these times. While this could theoretically be tested in California, it would be much less costly — and more efficient — to do it in Hawaii where we have a variety of closed systems of varying sizes.

Not only would investment in these test projects provide jobs ranging from service to low- to high-tech to the trades, they would provide a catalyst for building new industries, utilizing the intellectual capital that already exists in our communities.

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