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Hawaii law to require 100 percent renewables by 2045

By Erin Voegele | June 09, 2015

Hawaii has become the first state in the U.S. to require 100 percent renewable energy. A bill signed by Hawaii Gov. David Ige on June 8 will require the state’s utilities to generate 100 percent of their electricity sales from renewable energy resources by 2045.

The legislation, HB 623, was first introduced in January. The measure was passed by the Hawaii Senate and House of Representatives in early May and transmitted to the governor on May 6.

Prior to the passage and signing of HB 623, Hawaii had a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in place requiring electric utilities to achieve 40 percent renewable energy. That standard increased from 10 percent in 2010, to 15 percent in 2015, 25 percent in 2020 and 40 percent in 2030. The new RPS program implemented through HB 623 will also step up incrementally. Utilities will now be required to achieve 15 percent renewable energy this year, 30 percent in 2020, 40 percent in 2030, 70 percent in 2040 and 100 percent in 2045. Information published by the Hawaii legislature indicates the state is currently ahead of its timeline in reaching the goal of 40 percent renewables by 2030.

“As the most oil dependent state in the nation, Hawai‘i 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,” Ige said. “I’d like to thank the senate and house energy committee chairs for championing HB623 and ensuring that Hawai‘i remains a national leader in clean energy.”

“Setting a 100 percent renewable portfolio standard will help drive investment in Hawai‘i’s growing clean energy sector,” said Luis Salaveria, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. “Our commitment to clean energy has already attracted entrepreneurs and businesses from around the world, looking to develop, test and prove emerging technologies and strategies right here in Hawai‘i.”

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

“Renewable energy projects are already producing cheaper power than new fossil fuel projects in Hawai‘i, and it’s only going to get cheaper as renewable technology advances, unlike fossil fuels which will only grow more expensive as they become more difficult to extract from a shrinking supply,” added Rep. Chris Lee, chair of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee. “The faster we move toward renewable energy the faster we can stop exporting billions from our local economy to import expensive fossil fuels.”

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Hawaii imported 93 percent of the energy it consumed in 2012, and had the highest electricity prices in the nation in 2013. The state also has the world’s largest commercial electricity generator fueled exclusively with biofuels.

EIA data shows Hawaii generated nearly 10 million MWh of electricity last year, with 6.94 million MWh from petroleum liquids and 1.51 million MWh from coal. Conventional hydroelectric sources generated 82,000 MWh. Generation from other renewable sources included 585,000 MWh from wind, 48,000 MWh from solar, 254,000 MWh from geothermal, and 349,000 MWh from biomass.

Additional information on the bill can be downloaded from the Hawaii legislature website.