SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - When it comes to electricity, Hawaii has the highest average cost for residential use in the entire nation.

Residents pay 26.45 cents per kilowatt hour compared to the national average of 11.33 cents per kilowatt hour.

Hawaii's citizens depend heavily on imported fossil fuels to meet energy demand, and close to nine-tenths of the state's energy comes from petroleum, due in large part to heavy jet fuel use by military installations and commercial airlines.

The transportation sector is the leading energy-consuming sector. It accounts for more than half of Hawaii's total energy consumption.

In an effort to become better stewards of our environment and to encourage the efficient use of energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense established a utility consumption policy that holds Soldiers and their families responsible for their utilities.

The policy is intended to increase awareness of energy usage, promote conservation and, ultimately, lead to reduced energy consumption.

Beginning July 2010, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii and its partner, Army Hawaii Family Housing, will take the first step toward implementing the federal mandate with the launch of a Mock Billing Program.

"The two most important things our Soldiers and families need to understand are that they are not being sent a utility bill for payment, and they will not be billed for anything throughout the mock billing period," said Col. Matthew Margotta, commander, USAG-HI.

"The purpose of the mock billing program is to create awareness among families about their household energy consumption, promote energy conservation and help families, who exceed electrical consumption baseline targets, reduce their use," Margotta said.

To provide AHFH residents with an overview of the Mock Billing Program and answer questions they might have about it, Margotta and AHFH will host two town halls for AHFH residents.

The first will be held April 19, at 6:30 p.m., in Sgt. Smith Theater, here; the second will be held April 20, at 6:30 p.m., in Richardson Theater at Fort Shafter.

"We encourage all residents to attend one of these meetings, which will present details about the local garrison's program and provide information on available resources that can help them better understand their household utility consumption," said Claire Ridding-Johnston, project director, AHFH.

Margotta added that the utilities initiative is a Department of Defense-driven program - not a local garrison or AHFH program or profit center.

"Soldiers and their families stand to benefit from the program," Margotta said.

The OSD policy to decrease energy usage was developed to be a "win-win" situation for both the environment and Soldiers and their families. Money saved by reducing energy consumption will be put back directly into home and community improvements, and Soldiers and families who conserve will be financially rewarded.

Likewise, Soldiers and families who are wasteful with their energy consumption will be charged for usage that is above the established baseline or norm for that particular home and neighborhood. USAG-HI has not yet determined when actual utility billing will begin, but in accordance with OSD policies, billing must begin within 12 months of starting a Mock Billing Program.

"Our local Army leadership is committed to ensuring families understand their energy consumption use and can reap the most benefits from the program," said Margotta.

For more information about the Mock Billing Program, log on to