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Clean Energy

Clean Energy for Hawaii

The Hawaiian Electric Companies are committed to meeting the energy needs of Hawaii’s people in a reliable and environmentally sound way, at an affordable cost. Since 2008, when the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative accelerated our clean energy efforts, we have doubled the percentage of electricity supplied from renewable resources across Oahu, Maui County and Hawaii Island. Innovation and commitment enable us to shape Hawaii’s preferred energy future, integrating new and evolving technologies with potential to increase our energy self-sufficiency.

To fulfill the promise of these new technologies, we work in partnership with businesses, government, with other energy providers, environmental and community groups; and with you, our customer. This is a community challenge that only a collective community effort can meet. Under Hawaii law, the renewable portfolio standard calls for 40% of electricity sales to be from renewable resources by 2030. We aim to exceed this target adding as much renewable energy possible that is affordable, safe and reliable for our customers.


How are we doing?

In 2013, 18% of the energy used by the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ customers came from renewable sources, twice as much as in 2008 when the Hawaii Clean Energy agreement was signed.

Five years into Hawaii's revived clean energy initiative, the regulatory foundation for change is well established and projects are coming online.  This ongoing effort is boosting our renewed emphasis on controlling customer bill, along with increasing renewable energy and reducing dependency on imported oil.

In 2014, we have begun to deactivate older, less efficient oil-fired plants on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island.  Renewable energy projects in service, under construction, awaiting approval or in active negotiations totaled more than 1,500 megawatts.

This represents a significant share of peak demand experienced by Hawaiian Electric on Oahu (about 1,200 MW), Maui Electric Company on Maui Island (less than 200 MW) and Hawaii Electric Light Company on Hawaii Island (less than 200 MW).

Other projects are in preliminary negotiations and are not yet public.

Click here to see the five-year update on Hawaii's clean energy future.

Click here to see our latest (2013) Renewable Portfolio Standards Report.

Click here to see actions to boost local biofuel production.

 

Commitment

Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light are committed to increasing Hawaii’s clean energy use and 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. Since the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami – when Japan closed its fleet of  nuclear power plants and began using oil – prices have been higher and stayed higher longer than ever before. Hawaii shops for oil in the same Asia Pacific market at Japan does.

Reducing our dependency on imported oil and using renewable energy resources is not just the right thing to do, it is an economic, security and environmental necessity.  Hawaii has created a legal mandate – Act 55 (2009) known as a renewable portfolio standard – requiring that 40% of electricity by the Hawaiian Electric Companies come from renewable sources by 2030. Our commitment is to exceed the renewable portfolio standard and add as much renewably sourced electricity as soon as possible.

Though complex in detail, 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 at the center of the endeavor 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.

 

Background

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 then 90% dependent on imported fossil fuels for 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%  and established an energy efficiency standard of 30% by 2030.

As a state, Hawaii has strong motivation to achieve these goals. Our dependence on imported fossil fuel – particularly oil -- impacts our security and economy. It is becoming more and more difficult and costly to find oil, refine it and bring it to market.

Hawaii spends billions of dollars annually (roughly 10% of the state’s total economic activity) on energy, most 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.

To these concerns are added 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 extremely 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. 

Global Warming Position

In January 2007, the Hawaiian Electric companies’ Board of Directors established this position 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."