Hawaii's oil-based energy system has worked well for almost a century
Cost and availability of oil and concern about global warming mean the system must change
Switching from an oil-based system to a renewable/efficiency based system will take investment and may be more expensive, especially at first
The Hawaiian Electric companies are committed to providing reliable, cost-efficient electricity that is also environmentally friendly. For energy security and to reduce our contribution to global climate change, we must get more energy from clean, local and renewable resources.
Renewables include solar, wind, water, geothermal, biomass (including waste-to-energy), ocean energy and biofuels with a preference for those that can be grown locally.
Oil is becoming more expensive and harder to find. Also, we now understand that using fossil fuel contributes to global climate change. Hawaii’s oil-based energy system that has worked well for about a century must change.
Switching from an oil-based energy system to a renewables/efficiency based system will not necessarily be cheaper, especially at first. Switching will take investment in new facilities and infrastructure and, in the case of “as available” energy sources like wind, sufficient and firm backup to keep the lights on.
Some people believe that renewable energy must be cheaper because “fuel” such as sunlight, wind, volcanic heat, ocean waves and flowing water are “free.” However, this ignores the cost of converting these sources to electricity, and making them reliable.
Here are some things to remember about cost:
1) Some values are not reflected in price alone. How do we put a price on increasing our energy security?
2) There is value in keeping more dollars in Hawaii, circulating in our economy, rather than sending dollars out of state to buy energy even if it is cheaper.
3) Oil (as well as coal and natural gas) prices are expected to continue to climb. In the future, carbon emissions from fossil fuels are expected to be controlled through a tax or other system that will add to the costs of all energy.
As oil prices rise and carbon emissions costs are added, clean local renewables are likely to have more stable prices. This will make the relative cost of renewables more attractive over time.