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Hawaiian Electric hits 38% renewable energy in 2021; Maui County at 50%

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Ku‘ia Solar project in West Maui. Photo Credit: Maui Electric Company.

Buoyed by a full year of geothermal production and an increase in private rooftop solar, Hawaiian Electric reached 38% of renewable energy on its electric grids. It is up nearly 4% from 2020 and 28% from a decade ago.

The 38.4% is the combined renewable energy used by customers as a percentage of total utility sales for Maui County, Oʻahu and the Big Island. In utility jargon, it is called the renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

Maui County’s renewable production was up in 2021, but its RPS decreased slightly at 50.2% in 2021 compared to 50.8% in 2020. This decrease was due to electric sales rising by 9% with the return of tourists following the pandemic shutdown. 

“Everyone owns a piece of this remarkable progress,” said Shelee Kimura, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric. “It marks a huge step forward in Hawaiʻi’s transition away from reliance on imported fossil fuels. And, by continuing to work with our communities, government and other  stakeholders, we’re confident we can achieve our goal of reducing carbon emissions from power generation 70% by 2030.” 

2021 RPS highlights: 

  • The Big Island hit 60% RPS, up from 43.4% in 2020. It was achieved mainly by a full year of production from Puna Geothermal Venture returning to service at partial capacity. The geothermal production came back online in November 2020 after the plant had been damaged by the eruption of the Kīlauea volcano in 2018. 
  • Oʻahu recorded 32.8% RPS, up from 30.5% in 2020. A full year of production at the Nā Pua Makani wind facility contributed to the nearly 7% increase in renewable output.  
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In 2021, 4,956 private rooftop systems with 53 megawatts of capacity were added to the  company’s five island grids. This 6% increase contributed to the higher RPS percentage.  Overall, the increases in renewable energy were partially offset by an approximate 2% increase  in electric sales. 

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The next RPS milestone required by state law is to reach 40% by 2030. 

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