Legislature OKs bill setting goal for green energy

All of Hawaii's fuel would come from renewable sources if Ige signs the measure
Honolulu Star Advertiser - May 6, 2015
By: 
Kathryn Mykleseth

A bill that would make Hawaii the first state in the nation with a 100 percent-renewable-energy standard cleared the Legislature on Tuesday and is headed to the governor.

House Bill 623 would set 2045 as the year Hawaii should reach a goal of producing 100 percent of its electric power from renewable energy sources.

The House voted 50-1 to pass the bill. The Senate voted 24-1 in favor of the bill.

The measure sets an interim goal of 30 percent renewable energy dependence by 2020. In line with the state's current renewable-energy plan, the next benchmark calls for 40 percent renewables by 2030 and 70 percent by 2040.

The bill has to go under a legal and policy review before Gov. David Ige makes a decision on signing, said the Governor's Office.

Hawaii got 18 percent of its electric power from renewable energy in 2013. Electricity accounts for about 28 percent of petroleum use in Hawaii, with most imported oil being used for transportation, according to DBEDT.

Members of the energy community joined the Blue Planet Foundation at the state Capitol as the clean-energy organization hosted an event in support of the passed bill.
Jeff Mikulina, executive director of the Blue Planet Foundation, said he hopes Hawaii's 2045 target can be a model for the world.

"This is truly a victory for the globe," Mikulina said. "This means by 2045, or earlier than 2045, Hawaii will be solely powered by wind, solar, geothermal or other renewable energy resources. We are setting our vision and our destination of our clean energy future today."

Rep. Chris Lee (D, Kailua-Waimanalo), chairman of the Energy and Environmental Protection Committee, introduced the bill.

"With this vote today and our governor's signature, Hawaii takes our nation's first major step into a renewable future," Lee said. "It's going to do all of the things we need to do to make our state more sustainable, more secure and less susceptible to volatile price fluctuations."

Sen. Mike Gabbard (D, Kalaeloa-Makakilo), chairman of the Energy and Environment Committee, said he was confident the state would reach the 2045 goal, saying the state reached 21 percent in 2015 from 9 percent in 2008.

"We will reach 100 percent by 2045," Gabbard said. "At 2045 I'm going to be 97 years old, and so I plan to be rolling in my wheelchair to this rotunda to make sure we reach our goal of 100 percent."
Hawaiian Electric Co.; the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism; and the Ulu¬pono Initiative were among the groups that attended the event in support of the bill.

Mark Glick, administrator at the state Energy Office, said the bill is a result of collaboration in Hawaii's energy community and makes the state a leader in renewable-energy adoption.

"This is a groundbreaking opportunity and demonstrates what happens when we all work together," Glick said. "It's one of the reasons people are saying, ‘Instead of looking to California, look to Hawaii.'"

Leslie Cole-Brooks, executive director of the Hawaii Solar Energy Association, said she hopes the goals will help the solar industry.

"As early as last year we were still saying, ‘Can we even imagine being 100 percent renewable?' It seemed like a very lofty goal," Cole-Brooks said. "It went from ‘Can we be 100 percent?' to ‘Should we?' to ‘When will we be?'"

Henry Curtis, executive director of Life of the Land, said he was opposed to the bill because it does not restrict the state's use of liquefied natural gas.