Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light Company are committed to reducing Hawaii's dependence on fossil fuel – particularly imported oil.
Moving Hawaii off imported oil for electricity will have many benefits, including providing our customers more stable and predictable pricing.
The cost of oil has become increasingly volatile and unpredictable in recent years. Reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuel and using renewable energy sources is not just the right thing to do, it is an economic, security and environmental necessity.
Hawaii has created a legal mandate – known as a renewable portfolio standard – which requires that by 2030, 40 percent of the electricity sold by the Hawaiian Electric companies come from renewable sources. Hawaiian Electric sees that mandate as a floor, not a ceiling. Our commitment is to exceed the RPS and add as much renewably sourced electricity as soon as possible with the goal of reaching 100%.
Though complex in detail, in concept the goal can be expressed in two simple words: Less and Local.
Each of us in our homes, schools and workplaces needs to use LESS electricity when possible -- without sacrificing safety, comfort or convenience. Using conservation and energy efficiency, we all need to use energy wisely every day.
In addition, the Hawaiian Electric companies are in the center of the effort to increase the use of LOCAL clean and renewable energy.
In the past, it was efficient and economical for Hawaii to import crude oil, refine it into gasoline, jet and marine fuel and use the residue to generate electricity.
Today, concern about Hawaii’s energy security, our island economy and the world’s environment require that we act differently.
How are we doing?
In 2011, 12% of Hawaiian Electric companies’ sales were from renewable sources, up from about 10% in 2010. This included energy from renewable resources such as wind, solar, waste-to-energy, geothermal, hydro and biofuels.
More than three years into Hawaii's revived clean energy initiative, the regulatory foundation for change is established and projects are coming online. For example, First Wind completed Kahuku Wind in March 2011 and in February 2012 began work on a second Oahu wind facility at Kawailoa above Haleiwa.
As of early 2012, renewable energy projects in service, under construction, awaiting approval or in active negotiations totaled more than 1,000 MW. Other projects are in preliminary negotiations and are not yet public.
This represents a significant share of capacity for Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light Company, which currently have a total of about 2,500 MW from utility generation and from independent power producers.
In addition, four contracts for Hawaii-produced biofuel are with the Public Utilities Commission for review or are in negotiation.
Click here to see renewable energy projects in service, awaiting approval, under construction or in negotiations as of early 2012.
Click here to see actions to boost local biofuel production.
Click here to see the three-year update on progress on the clean energy initiative.
Click here to see our latest Renewable Portfolio Standards Report.
Background: Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative
In October 2008, a historic agreement was signed by the State of Hawaii and the Hawaiian Electric companies. It set an aggressive and far-reaching goal for a state now 90% dependent on imported fossil fuels for its energy needs.
The energy agreement, part of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, put Hawaii on a path toward 70% clean energy (a 30% reduction through energy efficiency and 40% of electricity sales from renewable sources) by 2030. In 2009, the Hawaii State Legislature enacted this goal into law. Act 155 increased Hawaii’s renewable portfolio standard to 40 percent and established an energy efficiency standard of 30 percent by 2030.
As a state, we have strong motivation to achieve these goals. Our dependence on imported fossil fuel impacts our security and economy. Most experts predict oil prices will rise as the world economy picks up and it becomes more and more difficult and costly to find oil and bring it to market.
Hawaii spends billion of dollars annually (roughly 10% of the total economic activity in the state) on energy, much of it sent out of state to buy oil. That oil arrives weekly in massive oil tankers over one of the world's longest sea routes. Many natural and human disasters could disrupt that supply, leaving Hawaii in an energy crisis within a month or less.
Added to these concerns: Growing understanding of global climate change. Hawaii’s total production of greenhouse gases is small, even on a per capita basis. But as an island state in a tropical hurricane path, we are very vulnerable to rising sea levels, more intense storms and even droughts that are part of global climate change.
It is now clear the energy system that powered Hawaii well for decades when oil was plentiful and cheap cannot be sustained.
The challenge of modernizing our energy system will require hard work, difficult decisions, cooperation and investment. We cannot afford inaction; the cost of doing nothing or too little outweighs the costs of what we can and must do. We believe a unified commitment to a clean energy future has put Hawaii on the right path.
Global warming policy
In January 2007, the Hawaiian Electric companies’ Board of Directors established this policy on global warming:
"Hawaiian Electric Company shares the very serious concerns of many regarding the potential effects of global warming and human contributions to this phenomenon, including the burning of fossil fuels for electricity production, transportation, manufacturing, agricultural activities and deforestation.
To effectively address global warming, actions addressing all contributing sources must be taken with priority given to those which provide the greatest benefit for the costs involved. To be successful, the response to global warming requires commitment by private sector businesses, all levels of government, and every member of the public.
At Hawaiian Electric, we remain committed to taking direct action to mitigate the contributions to global warming from electricity production. Such action has and will continue to include promoting aggressive energy conservation and transitioning to clean, efficient and eco-effective energy production in all markets that we serve."
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