Hawaii set to be first state with 100 percent renewables goal

By Anna Simet | May 12, 2015

According to the Hawaiian government, billions of dollars are diverted from the state’s economy each year because of its dependence on imported fossil fuels.

The idea of alleviating this issue with renewable energy isn’t new—the state has a goal of achieving 40 percent renewable energy by 2030—but the bar may soon be raised higher than any other state with renewable portfolio standards (RPS).

While Hawaii is on track to meet its current goal, and renewable energy, particularly solar and wind, has grown quickly since implementation of the current RPS, a bill that sits on the governor’s desk will set a new goal of 100 percent renewables by 2045.It includes components that protect ratepayers against higher bills, requiring that the goal is undertaken only in a manner that benefits the state’s economy and all electric customers, maintains customer affordability, and does not induce renewable energy developers to artificially increase the price of renewable energy in Hawaii. 

HB623 requires the Public Utilities Commission to perform periodic studies of the effectiveness and impacts of the RPS, particularly on energy prices offered by renewable energy developers, and report findings the legislature.

As of February, Hawaii residents were paying nearly 31 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity, according to U.S. EIA data.

As does the current RPS, the bill sets incremental goals to achieve 100 percent renewables— changing the previous 2020 goal from 25 to 30 percent, 40 percent by the end of 2030, and 75 percent by the end of 2040.

Qualifying energy sources under the RPS include but are not limited to wind; solar, hydro, biogas including landfill and sewage-based digester gas, geothermal; biomass, including biomass crops, agricultural and animal residues and wastes, and municipal solid waste and other solid waste and biofuels.

The House voted 50-1 to pass the bill; the Senate 24-1, and it is currently under review by Gov. David Ige.