Written by Chloe Chalekian, ESLLC 2016-2017
On June 10th 2015, Governor David Ige signed House Bill 623, which is being called the most aggressive clean energy goal in the nation. Hawaii is currently a leader in clean energy, as of 2015, 21% of the state’s energy came from renewable sources. The bill would strengthen the commitment to renewable sources by having the state completely powered by renewable sources of energy by 2045, or within the next 28 years. The bill also comes with target goals to keep progress on track. By 2020 the state hopes to source 30% of their energy from renewable sources and a further 40% by 2040 to become 70% renewable. Prior to the signing of HB 632, the state had a goal for 70% of their power to come from renewable sources by 2030. The new legislation was signed along with bills that would create funding for community solar farms and set a goal for the state’s University system to have a net zero energy use.
The landmark legislations were passed to decrease Hawaii’s reliance on oil. Hawaii spends around 5 billion dollars annually on importing oil. The high cost of shipping oil to the islands contributes to the fact that its residents pay 2-3 times the national average for electricity. Politicians hope that the bill will decrease energy costs for consumers in the long run. Governor Ige also hopes that the money will stimulate the local economy, improve energy security and have a lesser environmental impact.
The island’s oil dependence will be replace with three main renewable sources: solar, geothermal and wind. Hawaii has no reserves of fossil fuels because the islands aren’t old enough for the millennia long process of creating fossil fuels. They would also erode into the ocean before they could create such deposits. This makes Hawaii completely dependent on foreign energy like coal and oil. But because of their location near the equator, in the path of tradewinds and on a hotspot, a variety of renewable energy opportunities are available to them. For example: solar and geothermal, tidal and wind energy. Hawaii has immense opportunity in developing their renewable energy sector and setting a national example for other states to follow.