Aloha State’s Journey To Zero Carbon Emissions

The current population of the “Aloha State,” Hawaii is estimated to be 1.42 million people. In April 2019, state utilities used petroleum (66.1%), renewable energy (18.5%) and coal (15.4%) to generate electricity. Solar, wind, geothermal and biomass are the primary sources of renewable energy in Hawaii.

Hawaii’s heavy reliance on petroleum contributes to state’s high electricity costs. In April 2019, the average cost of electricity in Hawaii was U.S. 34.4 ¢ per kWh, which is the most expensive price in the United States. The average price of electricity in the United States is 12.5 ¢ per kWh.

Concerns about global warming and climate change prompted state legislators to mandate the move to renewable energy. On June 11, 2015, Hawaii enacted a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that requires all utilities to use 30% renewable energy by 2020 and 100% renewable energy by 2045. State utilities have begun to transform the power grid across the islands.

Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) has recently submitted a renewable energy solicitation plan to the state’s Public Utilities Commission. The utility’s plan lays out how the utility will replace coal-fired and oil-fired power plants with renewable energy projects over the next five years. HECO’s plan includes the development of 900 MW of new wind and solar projects.

Prior to the state’s RPS mandate, Hawaii’s utilities have been slow to move from fossil fuel to renewable energy. The state utilities have responded quickly and efficiently to the state’s renewable energy mandate. Hawaii’s power grid is being transformed from greenhouse gas emitting, fossil fuel to clean green energy.

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