Above: The “Old Kamaoa” wind farm at Ka Lae, South Point, Hawaii Island.
A bill passed by the State Legislature today, May 5, makes Hawaii the first state in the nation to adopt a 100 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard, which means Hawaii utilities will generate 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2045.
“As the first state to move toward 100 percent renewable energy, Hawaii is proving to the rest of the country that renewable energy can be cheaper, cleaner and can help consumers to cut their electric bills down to near-zero,” said Representative Chris Lee (Kailua, Waimānalo) who introduced the bill. “These big steps forward will accelerate the savings consumers are seeing around the state and will speed the growth of jobs in our local renewable energy industry.”
HB623, CD1—which increases renewable portfolio standards to 30 percent by December 31, 2020, 70 percent by December 31, 2040, and 100 percent by December 31, 2045—will boost the state’s local energy industry and save ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars in years to come.
“Local renewable projects are already cheaper than liquid natural gas and oil, and our progress toward meeting our renewable energy standards has already saved local residents hundreds of millions on their electric bills,” said Lee. “Moving to 100 percent renewable energy will do more to reduce energy prices for local residents in the long term than almost anything else we could do.”
Hawaii has been transitioning from a near-total dependence on imported fossil fuels, doubling its renewable energy production in the last decade. The state currently produces about 21 percent of its power from renewable energy.
Hawaii’s current renewable portfolio standards call for 40 percent renewable energy by 2040, which will now grow to 100 percent by 2045. Progress in meeting the existing renewable portfolio standards has saved local consumers hundreds of millions of dollars in avoided energy costs, including more than $67 million in 2012 alone.
Renewable energy from new projects currently proposed in the state is now coming in cheaper per kilowatt hour than fossil fuel energy. Accelerating the rate of renewable energy adoption will help advance savings for consumers as the state eliminates its dependence on fossil fuels subject to increasingly expensive and volatile prices.
The measure also requires the Public Utilities Commission to include the impact of renewable portfolio standards, if any, on the energy prices offered by renewable energy developers and the cost of fossil fuel volatility in its renewable portfolio standards study and report to the Legislature.
Other groundbreaking energy related bills passed this session include:
HB 1509, CD1 makes the University of Hawaii system the first university system in the nation to set a goal of being 100 percent renewable, generating all their own power by 2035, according to Lee. Achieving this goal will save students about $40 million in tuition every year that is now used to pay the university’s electric bill. It will also save taxpayers millions of dollars by encouraging the use of innovative energy-savings financing to pay for campus upgrades, instead of the state paying the bill.
SB1050, CD1 establishes the nation’s first state-wide community renewables program which will allow any resident to buy into a solar PV or other renewable project off-site and receive credit for it on their electric bill as though it was installed on their own roof. This opens the renewable energy market to condo owners, renters, and countless others who previously could not take advantage of renewable technology to save on their electric bill.