100 Percent Renewable Energy Focus of New LawJune 8, 2015, 3:25 PM HST (Updated June 9, 2015, 11:01 AM)
Four energy bills were signed into law by Governor David Ige on Monday. One of the bills will strengthen the state’s commitment to clean energy by directing the state’s utilities to generate 100 percent of their electricity sales from renewable energy resources by 2045.
The Hawai’i State Legislature took a bold step towards one of Governor Ige’s policy objectives when HB623, a renewable energy bill, was passed. Hawai’i is the first state in the country to have a 100 percent renewable portfolio standard for the electricity sector.
“As the most oil dependent state in the nation, Hawai’i spends roughly $5 billion a year on foreign oil to meet its energy needs. Making the transition to renewable, indigenous resources for power generation will allow us to keep more of that money at home, thereby improving our economy, environment and energy security,” Governor Ige said. “I’d like to thank the senate and house energy committee chairs for championing HB623 and ensuring that Hawai’i remains a national leader in clean energy.”
“Setting a 100 percent renewable portfolio standard will help drive investment in Hawai’i’s growing clean energy sector,” Luis Salaveria, Hawai’i’s director of the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, said following the signing, “Our commitment to clean energy has already attracted entrepreneurs and businesses from around the world, looking to develop, test and prove emerging technologies and strategies right here in Hawai’i.”
State Energy Office administrator Mark Glick commented on Hawai’i’s ability to lead the way in renewable energy. “Raising the bar for renewable energy in Hawai’i will also push the state to stay out in front on innovation. We are finding ways to be innovative both with technical solutions and financing structures that will help us meet our ambitious renewable energy goals.”
“Renewable energy projects are already producing cheaper power than new fossil fuel projects in Hawai’i, 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 Representative Chris Lee, Chair of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee. “The faster we move toward renewable energy the faster we can stop exporting billions from our local economy to import expensive fossil fuels.”
Governor Ige also signed bill SB1050, which will help democratize renewable energy by creating a structure that will allow renters, condominium owners, and others who have been shut out of Hawai’i’s clean energy transformation to purchase electricity generated at an off-site energy facility, such as a large-scale solar farm. The bill-turned-law will also provide relief to homeowners and businesses located on highly saturated circuits that cannot accommodate additional PV installations.
“As of March 2015, there are about 56,000 PV/Solar systems on rooftops. These folks are saving tremendously on their electricity bills. That’s great, but what about the 44 percent of Hawai’i residents who don’t own their homes? And those without roof space? SB1050 allows people to form a hui, find a piece of land, and purchase of lease however many PV panels they want and then get a credit on their electricity bill for the energy they produce. We spend $3-5 billion annually buying fossil fuels; this is an awesome concept that will keep some of the money here to help our economy,” commented Senator Mike Gabbard, who was the chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Energy when bill SB1050 was created.
Governor Ige also signed bill HB1509, which will set a net-zero energy goal for the University of Hawai’i System, and bill HB1296, which will designate a state hydrogen implementation coordinator.