Greater Access to Clean Energy Improvements
The Hawaii State Energy Office and the Hawaii Green Infrastructure Authority have partnered to launch the GEMS Program, an innovative, sustainable green financing initiative that makes clean energy improvements more affordable and accessible to Hawaii consumers.
The GEMS Program was signed into law on June 27, 2013 through Act 211. To enable the state to deploy sustainable green financing, Act 211:
- Tasked DBEDT to develop and use an innovative financing structure to obtain low-cost capital, and
- Created the Hawaii Green Infrastructure Authority (HGIA) and tasked it with the development of a groundbreaking program that provides low-cost capital to finance solar photovoltaic systems and other clean energy improvements for those who may otherwise have difficulty obtaining financing for these projects. For more information about HGIA and the GEMS Program, visit GEMS Financing Program.
The innovative financing mechanism developed by the State of Hawaii employed a tried-and-true bond issuance technique used by utilities across the country, call rate reduction bonds, and modified it to provide low-cost capital to finance clean energy—rather than financing utility stranded assets or storm recovery costs.
The Green Energy Market Securitization Bonds 2014 Series A were issued by DBEDT in November 2014 and designated as “Green Bonds” based upon the use of proceeds to fund renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Bondholders are pledged the payments of the green infrastructure fee assessed on electric utility customers.
The GEMS Bonds were rated Aaa/AAA/AAA by Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch Ratings, respectively. The ratings are based on the State of Hawaii and the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) non-impairment pledge, the irrevocable financing order of the PUC, the remote likelihood of a successful legislative challenge to the green infrastructure fee, the size and diversity of the ratepayer base, credit enhancement consisting of a dynamic true-up mechanism and a capital subaccount, as well as well-qualified Service Providers. This excellent rating provides the low cost capital that finances customers who were unable to access financing for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements in the GEMS Program.