Hawaii’s Move To Renewables Is Picking Up Speed

The current population of the state of Hawaii is estimated to be 1.42 million people. In May 2019, state utilities used petroleum (70.5%), renewable energy (17.0%) and coal (12.0%) 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 May 2019, the average price of electricity in Hawaii was U.S. 33.4 ¢ per kWh, which is the most expensive state in the United States. The average price of electricity in America in May 2019, was 13.3 ¢ per kWh.

Concerns about 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 Company (HECO) has recently issued a formal tender for 932 MW capacity of renewable energy projects. HECO’s tender includes 594 MW for Oahu, 135 MW for Maui and 203 MW for Hawaii for wind, solar and energy storage projects. The new renewable projects will replace a coal-fired power plant on Oahu and an oil-fired power plant on Maui.

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

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