On Monday, the country’s last state became the first state in the nation to commit to 100-percent clean energy.
Gov. David Ige signed into law a landmark bill, HB623, that requires all of Hawaii’s electricity to be produced from renewable energy sources by the year 2045.
Instead of imported fossil fuel, Hawaii must now rely on solar, wind, geothermal and other clean energy sources.
“It wasn’t too long ago where Hawaii was virtually 100-percent in imported fossil fuel and clearly, we have made significant progress,” Ige said during the signing ceremony.
“Renewable energy projects are already producing cheaper power than new fossil fuel projects in Hawaii, and it’s only going to get cheaper as renewable technology advances, unlike fossil fuels which will only grow more expensive as they become more difficult to extract from a shrinking supply,” said Rep. Chris Lee, chair of the House energy and environmental protection committee.
“We’re raising the bar globally for what’s possible and we should do it in Hawaii,” said Blue Planet Foundation CEO Jeff Mikulina. “Hawaii has all the resources and we have no fossil fuel. Yet Hawaii is so dependent on imported fossil fuel, which costs us billions every year.”
Mikulina says Hawaii has the highest electricity rates in the nation and believes moving toward clean energy will result in plenty of benefits.
“What it means in the long-term is lower energy bills, stable bills, likely more local jobs. We’re shifting that money from buying fossil fuel and shifting it to local investment and local labor,” Mikulina explained.
Though Mikulina admits he is not sure what the transition will look like, he says Hawaii has three decades to figure it out, which is plenty of time.
“We’re going to have more energy source locally, that means wind farms, solar farms, offshore wind, but it’s a conversation we need to have as a community. Where is the right place to put these things and how can we best balance the cost, the location, impact to the environment?” Mikulina said.
Hawaiian Electric Co. released a statement, saying the proposed merger with NextEra Energy would help make the state’s goals a reality.
“It’s the clean energy transformation we all want for Hawaii. Reaching this goal will require a diverse portfolio of renewable energy resources and strong, upgraded electric grids, and that’s exactly what we’re working toward,” said Alan Oshima, HECO president and CEO.
Ige also signed three other energy-related bills into law Monday.
HB1296 establishes a task force to study hydrogen as a fuel source, HB1509 sets a net-zero energy goal for the University of Hawaii and SB1050 gives more people a chance, like renters or condominium owners, to benefit from solar energy.
Since 2009, Hawaii has had the highest standard in the nation for renewable energy at 40 percent by 2030.