Maui News

Hawaiʻi’s New 100% Renewable Energy Goal is Most Aggressive in Country

June 8, 2015, 1:59 PM HST
* Updated June 8, 2:02 PM
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Windmills above Kaheawa on Maui. File photo by Wendy Osher.

Windmills above Kaheawa on Maui. File photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

Governor David Ige today signed into law four energy bills, including one that strengthens Hawaiʻi’s commitment to clean energy by directing the state’s utilities to generate 100% of their electricity sales from renewable energy resources by 2045.

Under the bill, the state’s renewable portfolio standard would undergo incremental increases of:

  • 30% by December 31, 2020;
  • 70% by December 31, 2040; and
  • 100% by December 31, 2045.
Kaheawa Wind Farm, aerial file photo by Wendy Osher.

Kaheawa Wind Farm, aerial file photo by Wendy Osher.

The state has been transitioning from a near-total dependence on imported fossil fuels, doubling its renewable energy production in the last decade, according to earlier information released by Representative Chris Lee of Kailua who introduced the bill. Currently, the state produces an estimated 21% of its power from renewable energy.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies today joined others across Hawaiʻi in applauding the governor and the Hawaiʻi Legislature for setting the most aggressive clean energy goal in the country.

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Other measures signed into law today included: one bill that requires the University of Hawaiʻi to establish a collective goal of becoming net-zero with energy use by 2035; a measure that designates a state hydrogen implementation coordinator and working group; and a bill that establishes a community based renewable energy program in Hawaiʻi.

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Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaiʻi Electric Light Company joined in vowing their full support of the goal to have 100% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources while ensuring that it’s achieved at a reasonable cost for electric customers and that safe, reliable electric service is maintained.

“Reducing our dependence on imported oil and increasing our use of renewable energy is critical to our state’s future,” said Hawaiian Electric president and CEO Alan Oshima in a company press release.  “It’s the clean energy transformation we all want for Hawai’i. Reaching this goal will require a diverse portfolio of renewable energy resources and strong, upgraded electric grids, and that’s exactly what we’re working toward.”

Governor Ige also issued a statement after signing the bills into law saying, “As the most oil dependent state in the nation, Hawaiʻi spends roughly $5 billion a year on foreign oil to meet its energy needs. Making the transition to renewable, indigenous resources for power generation will allow us to keep more of that money at home, thereby improving our economy, environment and energy security.”

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Hawaiian Electric representatives say their proposed merger with NextEra Energy will provide additional resources to help make the goal a reality. “NextEra Energy has developed, built and operates one of the nation’s most modern grid networks and is the world’s largest producer of renewable energy from the wind and sun,” according to information released today by Hawaiian Electric.

“Reaching these goals will be a challenge that our entire state must work together to meet. And we’ll do that with strong collaboration among all stakeholders and our collective commitment to building a better energy future for Hawaiʻi,” Oshima said.

Mark Glick, administrator for the State Energy office also commented saying that, “raising the bar for renewable energy in Hawai‘i will also push the state to stay out in front on innovation.”  He continued saying, “We are finding ways to be innovative both with technical solutions and financing structures that will help us meet our ambitious renewable energy goals.”

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