STAND. COM. REP. NO. 2607

 

Honolulu, Hawaii

                  

 

RE:    S.B. No. 2775

       S.D. 1

 

 

 

Honorable Donna Mercado Kim

President of the Senate

Twenty-Seventh State Legislature

Regular Session of 2014

State of Hawaii

 

Madam:

 

     Your Committees on Agriculture and Energy and Environment, to which was referred S.B. No. 2775 entitled:

 

"A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO RENEWABLE ENERGY,"

 

beg leave to report as follows:

 

     The purpose and intent of this measure is to allow solar energy facilities on agricultural lands with soil classified as overall productivity rating class A, so long as the facilities:

 

     (1)  Do not occupy more than five per cent of the acreage of the parcel, or five acres of land, whichever is lesser;

 

     (2)  Do not materially interfere with farm operations; and

 

     (3)  Cause no more than a minimal adverse impact on existing or potential agricultural uses of the land.

 

     Your Committees received testimony in support of this measure from the Department of Land and Natural Resources; Hawaii Agriculture Research Center; Hawaii Cattlemen's Council, Inc.; Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation; and four individuals.  Your Committees received comments on this measure from the Office of Planning, Land Use Commission, and Department of Agriculture.

 

     Your Committees find that using renewable energy sources to support agricultural activities is important to the State's agricultural industry, environment, and sustainability.  Your Committees have concerns, however, about allowing solar energy facilities on prime class A agricultural lands, which make up only 3.1 percent of the state agricultural district.  As a compromise, your Committees conclude that solar facilities should be allowed on class A lands, but only on field roads that are used for vehicular traffic.  With this compromise, no prime agricultural land will be sacrificed for solar energy facilities, and the State can increase its renewable energy sustainability efforts.

 

     Accordingly, your Committees have amended this measure by deleting its contents and inserting language to allow solar energy facilities on agricultural lands with soil classified as overall productivity rating class A, if the solar energy facilities are located on a paved or unpaved road that is established by December 31, 2013, and the road allows for vehicular traffic.

 

     As this measure moves forward in the legislative process, your Committees request consideration of the Land Use Commission's testimony to subject solar energy facilities on class A, B, and C agricultural lands to the state special permit process.

 

     As affirmed by the records of votes of the members of your Committees on Agriculture and Energy and Environment that are attached to this report, your Committees are in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 2775, as amended herein, and recommend that it pass Second Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 2775, S.D. 1, and be placed on the calendar for Third Reading.

 

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committees on Agriculture and Energy and Environment,

 

____________________________

MIKE GABBARD, Chair

 

____________________________

CLARENCE K. NISHIHARA, Chair