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For Monday, October 18, 2010

By Associated Press


Candidates lay out energy plans

Hawaii is the nation's most fossil-fuel dependent state, a fact its candidates for governor intend to change.

Republican James "Duke" Aiona has set an ambitious goal for Hawaii to cut its consumption of foreign oil in half within eight years. Democrat Neil Abercrombie's plan calls for a new agency to oversee the state's energy initiatives.

Aiona, the lieutenant governor, insists his proposal is a realistic way for the state to move from importing 53 million barrels of oil annually to 26 million barrels.

"We can get there, and we should get there as soon as possible," he said in an interview.

Aiona is largely relying on the construction of a proposed $1 billion undersea cable that would bring power to Oahu from future neighbor island wind farms. The cable cannot be built until an environmental impact statement is completed in 2012, Aiona said.

Abercrombie's idea would bring the state's disjointed renewable energy efforts under one roof instead of being handled separately by the Public Utilities Commission and the state Energy Office.

"A Hawaii Energy Authority that is independent from the utility and from political considerations is what Hawaii needs to move us quicker to a clean energy future," Abercrombie said.

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