Hawaii and Hawaiian Electric Company Push Renewables with New Agreement

October 21, 2008

Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle announced an agreement with the Hawaiian Electric Company to accelerate regulatory changes to slash the state's dependence on fossil fuels. The accord is the results of months of work on the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. That effort, which began in January between the state and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), seeks to move Hawaii toward having 70 percent of its energy use come from clean energy sources by 2030.

Highlights of the agreement include:

  • A commitment to integrate as much as 1,100 megawatts (MW) of identified new renewable energy onto the Hawaiian Electric Company's grids, including 700 MW to be implemented within five years.
  • The construction of an undersea cable connecting Maui, Molokai, and Lanai into one electrical grid. This consolidation will allow the integration of an additional 400 MW of renewable wind power generated in Maui County for transmission to Oahu and increase the efficiency of the combined power system.
  • A requirement that 40 percent of electric power come from renewable resources by 2030, doubling the current Renewable Portfolio Standard requirement law.
  • A feed-in tariff system to accelerate the addition of renewable energy from new sources.
  • Seeking prompt approvals from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission for the immediate deployment of advanced meters and for implementation of time-of-use rates that reward customers with lower electric rates for using power during off-peak times. This change will support the development of a "smart grid" to allow customers far greater control over their energy use and their electricity bills.
  • Changing the way Hawaiian Electric Company is compensated by moving away from a business model that places reliance on increased electric sales.
  • Commitment from the Hawaiian Electric Company to retire older fossil fuel powered energy generation plants.
  • Conversion of existing fossil fuel generators to renewable biofuels, ultimately using crops grown locally and in a sustainable manner.
  • A prohibition on the construction of any new coal plants.
  • Expanding the Pay-As-You-Save program under which customers can install solar water heating systems without having to pay money up front.
  • Eliminating existing system-wide caps on net energy metering to allow customers on each island to produce their own renewable energy and obtain credit on their electric bills for any excess exported to the grid.
  • Committing the state and Hawaiian Electric Company to a program that will identify and implement incentives to encourage adoption of electric vehicles for individual and fleet use, and also by acquiring hybrid or electric-only vehicles for government and utility fleets.

"With this agreement, Hawaii moves to the forefront in energy leadership in the nation," said Kevin Kolevar, assistant secretary of the DOE, whose office helped negotiate the agreement. "Hawaii's vision will prove to be a boon to the local economy and will lead to more stability and long-term reductions in the cost of energy in Hawaii. It will provide future generations with significant independence from imported fuel."

For more information, see the governor's October 20 press release.

To read more about renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Hawaii, see: