The Hawaii Energy Policy Forum had its beginnings in May 2002, when the University of Hawaii at Manoa was funded by the Hawaiian Electric Company to bring together energy stakeholders to chart a new future for energy in Hawaii. Because Hawaii’s dependence on imported fossils fuels had increased despite innumerable previous plans and studies over the previous three decades, the project attempted to experiment with a new approach to attain a preferred energy future for Hawaii: a collaborative effort of government, business, academe, and community. The University of Hawaii called on Hawaii’s major energy stakeholders and other community leaders to develop an energy vision for the year 2030 and a strategy to ensure its implementation. We wanted to incorporate as many different perspectives and the broadest possible experience into the design of a flexible, forward-looking energy strategy that would be environmentally friendly, renewable, safe, reliable, and affordable. The project, with its 30-member advisory group (view project background), later to become the Hawaii Energy Policy Forum, began by commissioning six critical studies to obtain a solid understanding of Hawaii’s energy options for a comprehensive energy strategy:
In December of 2003, to obtain broader community input in developing a strategy for Hawaiiʻs energy future, the Hawaii Energy Policy Summit was convened. What resulted from the Summit was a long-term, strategic, comprehensive, and action-oriented plan, which was documented in “Hawaii at the Crossroads: A Long Term Energy Strategy” that included guiding principles and policy options to meet Hawaii’s long-term energy needs.
Additional funding from the State Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, the Hawaii Community Foundation, and the Department of Health, as well as the University of Hawaii, provided further support for developing the vision and mission (pdf), goals, and the organization of the Hawaii Energy Policy Forum, including its governance structure, with a Steering Committee and seven Working Groups. The Forum adopted a Ten-Point Plan, from which action strategies have been developed by the Working Groups and the general membership of the Forum. The Ten-Point Plan is dynamic and continually reviewed and updated, continuing to guide Forum activities in developing our energy policy initiatives and legislation, which are vetted by the general membership.
The Forum has also commissioned studies (see below), convened briefings for legislators and the general public on a wide range of energy options and conducted public education and awareness activities including the Hawaii Clean Energy Day and production of television and radio programs on the state of clean energy in Hawaii.