- In July 2013, Hawaii’s House and Senate passed Act 211, the Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) Program, a statewide green infrastructure plan to finance distributed generation and energy efficiency for low- and moderate-income homeowners, renters and nonprofits.
- GEMS will use up to $50 million in bonds from Hawaii’s Green Infrastructure Special Fund to allay high upfront costs of new technology and allow utility customers to pay off the installations over time through savings from their electricity bills.
- A line item in the state budget, GEMS will go into effect when it is passed by the legislature, signed by Governor Abercrombie, and approved by the PUC and other state agencies.
GEMS is considered a pioneering measure to drive renewables and efficiency upgrades because it combines low interest bonds with on-bill financing.
GEMS is similar to the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs that allow homeowners to pay off distributed generation and efficiency upgrades through their mortgages because the assumption in both is the technologies will pay for themselves in energy savings. GEMS will initially cover only distributed solar but in future phases will cover other options, like energy efficiency retrofits.
A December 2012 survey of Hawaii homeowners found that 70% would likely make “energy-saving home improvements” if low-interest financing was available.