Hawaii has more reasons than most to have a disdain for oil dependence. As a series of islands, climate change poses a very present threat and, since they are dependent on oil for energy, they have to import a lot of it. That gets very expensive—with over 90 percent of Hawaii’s energy generated from imported oil, their electricity rates are about 175 percent of the national average. To remedy this, the state is looking to clean energy, and a bill passed last week by the legislature would see all of Hawaii’s power generated from renewable sources by 2045.
The state’s Clean Energy Initiative had already set a goal of producing 15 percent of electricity from clean sources by the end of 2015—but Hawaii is already at 23 percent, so the groundbreaking bill is far from unrealistic. Hawaii’s Governor David Ige has until the end of June to approve the measure which would take the form of a series of goals: 25 percent of electricity sales to be renewable by 2020, 40 percent by 2030, 70 percent by 2035 and 100 percent by 2045.
According to the Huffington Post, Mark Glick, the Hawaii State Energy Office energy administrator thinks the measures make perfect economic sense, noting that many of Hawaii’s 50 renewable energy projects “compete favorably today with the cost of oil.” Some of Hawaii’s projects include a large geothermal plant, biomass facilities and an array of solar, wind and hydropower projects. The islands are pretty perfectly suited to renewable energy.
But the highly ambitious goal can’t be accomplished overnight; as Anthony Kuh, director of the Renewable Energy and Island Sustainability Group at the University of Hawaii at Manoa told Climate Central, “We don’t probably have the technology today to do everything.” But with advances coming in smart energy storage and the like, it’s fair to trust that goal is attainable.
So all eyes are on the Governor’s pen. In the meantime, Glick is standing by the bill: “This is a significant step in our effort toward reducing Hawaii’s dependence on expensive imported oil and putting the state on the path toward greater energy, environmental and economic security.”