HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii is ending its use of coal to make electricity, the state’s last coal-fired power plant at Campbell Industrial Park is set to close next month as part of the state’s transition to clean energy, but the move will come at a cost to customers. 

The Hawaiian Electric Company said on Sunday, Aug. 7 that your electric bill may rise about 7% or $15 when it stops using coal. It will be a result of the state shutting down the coal power plant.

Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8

“The cost was going to be around $2 a month for most customers,” HECO Spokesperson Jim Kelly said. “But after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we all know oil prices went up. You can see it at the gas pump. You can see it in the electric bill. So that is what has driven oil prices up and that’s what’s making this transition more expensive.”

Hawaii received its last shipment of coal last week. A 30-year contract between Hawaiian Electric and AES Corporation is reaching its end. 

“We really are making the transition,” Kelly said. “And over the next several years, we’re going to be seeing more and more clean energy projects coming online that are going to be significantly less cost for generating electricity than oil.”

HECO confirmed it is behind in some of the renewable power projects, in part due to the pandemic affecting the supply chain. But HECO said nine renewable energy projects will be coming online through 2024, but there is no timeline for when electric bills will eventually come down again. 

HECO customer Sue Larkin said she is already noting higher costs, especially in the Energy Cost Recovery portion of her bill. 

HECO has been using a coal-fired power plant at Campbell Industrial Park since 1992 to make electricity.

Larkin said, “Last year, 2021 my average was $64 a month, and for this year it is 88 dollars a month, and going up.”   

HECO recommends customers to take note of their electricity usage, and try to limit usage of appliances that generate heat such as water heaters and clothes dryers, turn-off unused electronics and turn off the air conditioner once in a while.

The power purchase contract between Hawaiian Electric and the AES Corporation ends at midnight on Sept. 1, HECO said.

This is a critical turning point in the long-term transition of Hawai’i’s energy landscape.
Unfortunately, the timing has converged with global events that are currently increasing the cost
of electricity. We know that paying more for an essential service like electricity will impact many households
and businesses particularly at a time when other costs are rising. We wanted to let customers
know the situation in advance so they can plan and we can help them with options. We’re also
seeing some encouraging signs that oil prices are declining and we’re hopeful this will help
lower rates in the coming months.

Shelee Kimura
President and CEO of Hawaiian Electric

Check out more news from around Hawaii

HECO said customers may see the impact reflected in the October bill.