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Head of failed state loan program resigns

  • COURTESY PHOTO / SEPT. 2008

    Tara Young

The executive director of a failed $150 million state loan program for renewable energy resigned her post after less than a year on the job.

Tara Young, executive director of the Hawaii Green Infrastructure Authority, resigned on Thursday.

Young said she planned to leave HGIA — the office responsible for overseeing a loan program intended to help low income residents own rooftop solar energy systems — in a letter to stakeholders on Wednesday.

“A little less than a year ago, I joined as executive director with a clear goal – to develop a strategic plan to responsibly deploy the (Green Energy Market Securitization or GEMS) fund and to build an organization at HGIA with the capabilities to execute this challenging task,” Young said.

Young did not provide a reason for her resignation in the letter.

State lawmakers approved GEMS in 2013 and raised $150 million in a November 2014 bond sale. The program had a goal of lending all the money for solar and other renewable energy systems by November 2016. After a year of offering loans for rooftop solar systems, only 12 have been installed — loaning only $385,000.

Electric ratepayers paid about $21.5 million as of June 30 for GEMS, according to a filing submitted to the Public Utilities Commission on May 24. From July to the end of 2016, ratepayers will pay an additional $6.4 million.

Young took her post as executive director of HGIA in October 2015, after the two-year program already saw two interim executive directors come and go.

During her time as executive director, the program funded its first consumer solar loans.

In the letter, Young said the program made improvements to the application processes and moved forward with programs that would expand the technology accepted to receive GEMS funding, including residential energy storage and community solar.

“In response to the entirely appropriate public interest in the performance of this program, we have sought to be transparent and frank about the challenges and opportunities,” Young said.

“HGIA and our board of directors continue to believe that GEMS funds will play a transformative role in improving access to renewable energy technology and advancing the State’s green energy goals.”

HGIA Letter to Stakeholders

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  • Why are we spending $150 million of tax money to help individuals build rooftop, solar when we are also being told that the grid can’t handle more solar customers? This wouldn’t just be a way to expand government, would it?

    • Gotta pay back the 150 million lawmakers borrowed to create the GEMS program in the first place. This is the fund Ige wants to raid to pay for school a/c systems and probably why the Director is leaving. HSTA owns Ige, they’ll get their A/C and every Hawaii ratepayer will pay higher electric rates to do it.

      • even while the direction may have been wrong, the sentiment still applies appropriately, wouldn’t you think? the norm is anything bureaucratically inspired and implemented usually goes awry and is wrong-minded!! think HART, OBAMA-CARE, immigration, VA care, homelessness, the 2nd amendment attacks, etc…get the point? while the original basic intent may be noble, the implementation and management protocols almost always go the wrong way, wasting all kinds of money along the way!!! milking the system becomes the way of life!!!

  • This is the dysfunctional program that loaned money to at least a couple of homeowners who are obviously NOT low income for 40 PANEL SYSTEMS. Look at the picture at http://www.staradvertiser.com/2016/06/12/hawaii-news/solar-funding-program-fails-to-match-hype/
    does this guy and his house look like “low income”? Do “low income” people need a 40 PANEL SYSTEM?

    This director should have been fired long ago. Jail should also be considered.

  • A make work program for political cronies and flunkies as they all need a job,don’t you know.
    Ige continues to disappoint and I have long had buyers remorse but at the time, it was either Ige or “short stuff”. It was chosing the lesser of two
    evils. Lesson learned.

  • Another failed State run program wasting tax payer’s money. Good concept but extremely poor execution. I hate to say this but “GET RID OF THIS PROGRAM & CURB OUR LOSSES”.

    • Our crooked lawmakers will never “refund to ratepayers” or do away with any tax or surcharge. Once they’ve got a cash flow going there’s no way they give it up, we’ll be lucky if they don’t increase the electric bill surcharge later to put a/c in all the schools. The special interest masters (HSTA) demand it from Ige and he will provide.

  • Let’s give her some credit for RESIGNING!

    Most blockheads in this sort of position/situation here in the nei government would just keep on collecting pay checks!

    • Yeah, you’re right “Shopologic”. She deserves credit for resigning, although she may have been asked to resign, who knows the truth. The other point is, she could have resigned out of pure frustration, dealing with State bureaucracy.

  • GEMS is just one in a string of tens of thousands of utter failures by our clueless, unprofessional, lap dog to special interest elected bureaucrats. They have no problem with creating a program when none is needed, sticking the taxpayers with tens of millions of dollars is wasteful taxes.

    Makes no sense to borrow money then not have an effective, professionally managed program to use it in place. Exactly like the money pit rail system.

    State needs to shut this program down as efficiently as possible, pay off any charges, let this be another lesson in the failed politics, failing Nei government.

    This is exactly why the Nei has proudly claimed the title of “Least Intelligent State In The World.” We’re #1!!!! We’re #1!!!! Can’t argue with fact.

    http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/30553486/hawaii-called-least-intelligent-state-in-analysis

  • You know…why read the news? This story is simply gross. You can’t have PV because HECO won’t allow it. Why even have loans for it? This story is about someone who realized that if she hangs around any longer, she will be the scapegoat for some kind of investigation. The system is gross. The news is gross.

  • I guess we can conclude that low income folks generally have bad credit or low ratios also. You wouldn’t want to loan your tax money and then the loans default, would you? What cost more to repo panels than they are worth. Another good intentions program that grows awry.

  • Concept was flawed from the start. Low income people generally don’t own single family dwellings and if they do, they likely don;t spend a lot on electricity. Hence the few applications. Where is the $150 million sitting. Use it to buy back the bond and be done with it. State probably paying 3% interest and getting 0.1% interest on the money sitting in the bank.

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