HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

2109

TWENTY-NINTH LEGISLATURE, 2018

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

relating to solar water heaters.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that Act 204, Session Laws of Hawaii 2008, was intended to benefit consumers by requiring new homes to use solar water heating except in narrowly limited circumstances. Act 204, also known as the "solar water heater mandate," created a variance process for noncompliant solar water heaters.

The legislature further finds that, the following year, in an attempt to clarify the intent of Act 204, the legislature passed Act 155, Session Laws of Hawaii 2009. Act 155 explained that in passing Act 204 in 2008, the legislature had "found that retrofitting a home for a solar water heater after [the home] was constructed was more costly, and that such upfront costs . . . were substantial barriers for the average consumer." However, the legislature further explained that "[t]he financial barriers can be addressed . . . by including the installation of a solar water heater into the purchase price and mortgage of a home, where the cost of the system may pay for itself immediately."

Act 155 further clarified the use of variances allowed by Act 104. Act 104 provided a variance process by which a single family dwelling could be built without a solar water heater if:

(1) Installation is impractical due to poor solar resource;

(2) Installation is cost-prohibitive based upon a life cycle cost-benefit analysis;

(3) A renewable energy technology system, such as a solar photovoltaic system, is substituted for use as the primary energy source for heating water; or

(4) A demand water heater device approved by Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., is installed; provided that at least one other gas appliance is installed in the dwelling.

As explained in Act 155, the legislature intended that variances to the solar water heater mandate be "rarely, if ever, exercised or granted." Moreover, the legislature expressly intended that variances based on the "demand water heater device" provision be even rarer, stating "if the potential variance applicant is not the party who will ultimately pay for the energy cost consumption, then only [variance exceptions (1)‑(3) under the solar water mandate] should apply." However, it appears that the variance process frequently circumvents the legislature's objectives. Through December 2017, 5,429 variance requests have been filed, more than 5,416 of those requests have been granted, and over 5,100 of those requests have been for demand water heaters. In addition, over two thousand of the variance requests were submitted by a single architect, an individual who incurred none of the energy consumption costs.

The legislature believes that it is necessary to amend the solar water heater mandate to effectuate the intent of Act 204 and Act 155. This need is particularly significant given the substantial number of residential tracts presently under development throughout the State.

Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to close the loophole that allows applicants to circumvent the legislature's stated objectives for solar water heating systems and ensure that a variance for a demand water heater is granted only if solar water heating is impracticable and cost-prohibitive and if no renewable energy technology system can be substituted as the primary energy source for heating water.

SECTION 2. Section 196-6.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"196-6.5 Solar water heater system required for new single-family residential construction. (a) On or after January 1, 2010, no building permit shall be issued for a new single-family dwelling that does not include a solar water heater system that meets the standards established pursuant to section 269-44, unless the coordinator approves a variance. A variance application shall only be accepted if [submitted] signed by an architect or mechanical engineer licensed under chapter 464, who attests that:

(1) Installation is impracticable due to poor solar resource;

(2) Installation is cost-prohibitive based upon a life cycle cost-benefit analysis that incorporates the average residential utility bill and the cost of the new solar water heater system with a life cycle that does not exceed fifteen years;

(3) A renewable energy technology system, as defined in section 235-12.5, is substituted for use as the primary energy source for heating water; or

(4) A demand water heater device approved by Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., is installed; provided that at least one other gas appliance is installed in the dwelling. For the purposes of this paragraph, "demand water heater" means a renewable gas-tankless instantaneous water heater that provides hot water only as it is needed[.] and has a uniform energy factor of 0.93 or higher.

(b) All applications for a variance under subsection (a)(4) shall:

(1) Be signed by the applicant who shall be the owner and occupant of the dwelling and shall include an attestation by the applicant that the applicant shall pay the energy costs for heating water in the home; and

(2) Include an attestation by an architect or mechanical engineer licensed under chapter 464 that a variance under subsection (a)(3) would be impracticable and cost-prohibitive in accordance with subsections (a)(1) and (a)(2).

[(b)] (c) A request for a variance shall be submitted to the coordinator on an application prescribed by the coordinator and shall include a description of the location of the property and justification for the approval of a variance using the criteria established in subsection (a). The coordinator may deny any variance application that the coordinator deems incomplete or insufficient to satisfy the criteria in subsections (a) and (b). A variance shall be deemed approved if not denied within thirty working days after receipt of the variance application. The coordinator shall publicize:

(1) All applications for a variance within seven days after receipt of the variance application; and

(2) The disposition of all applications for a variance within seven days of the determination of the variance application.

[(c)] (d) The director of business, economic development, and tourism may adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91 to impose and collect fees to cover the costs of administering variances under this section. The fees, if any, shall be deposited into the energy security special fund established under section 201-12.8.

[(d)] (e) Nothing in this section shall preclude any county from establishing procedures and standards required to implement this section.

[(e)] (f) Nothing in this section shall preclude participation in any utility demand-side management program or public benefits fee program under part VII of chapter 269.

(g) As used in this section, "uniform energy factor" shall have the same meaning as in title 10 Code of Federal Regulations part 430, subpart B, appendix E, as amended."

SECTION 3. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 4. This Act does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were begun before its effective date.

SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

_____________________________

 

 



 

Report Title:

Solar Water Heaters; Energy Conservation; DBEDT

 

Description:

Requires that solar water heater variances be signed by the architect or mechanical engineer attesting to the need for the variance. Requires that any tankless water heater installed instead of a solar water heater be energy efficient. Requires that the individual who would pay for the energy costs sign the application for a solar water heater variance.

 

 

 

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