Military Drives Alternative Energy in Hawaii

The Pentagon is investing billions in alternative energy and conservation, and that’s good news for local companies.

It’s good news for hawaii’s economy and local aspirations when the state’s goals align with the American military’s goals. That’s because the U.S. Department of Defense spent $6.5 billion in Hawaii in 2011 and employed 16.5 percent of the workforce. Only tourism brings in more money and employs more people in Hawaii.

Right now, the DoD’s energy-security goals are aligned with the state’s goals for a cleaner energy future. That has made the military a big spender in Hawaii’s alternative-energy sector, including multimillion-dollar investments in solar, biofuels, conservation and other areas. The applications include fuel for ships and ground transport, and a multifaceted effort to turn military-base homes from energy hogs to energy misers.

“The military is a big partner with the state in any kind of initiative that involves sustainability … renewable or clean energy,” says Charlie Ota, VP of military affairs for the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce.

Mark Glick, Hawaii’s Energy Office administrator, says the state and U.S. Pacific Command have been collaborating on cleaner energy solutions. “The state appreciates the U.S. Department of Defense’s voluntary commitment to comply with the state’s goals to achieve 70 percent clean energy by 2030,” he says.

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