Big Island Blues: Hawaii Far from Reaching 100% Renewable Energy

A recently-released Hawaiian state energy report says that, in 2017, only 27.6% of Hawaii’s electricity was produced with renewable sources.

According to Hawaii News Now, the majority of that energy came from oil, however. The news site states that in 2015, oil accounted for about 67% of its electricity production. By comparison, less than 1% of the nation’s energy production is from petroleum.

Put another way, about one-fourth of all the petroleum used in the state goes to electricity production. That’s about the same as all the petroleum used for ground transportation.

In May, the state’s legislature passed two bills this week setting the state on a course for becoming carbon neutral by 2045 — the most ambitious goal of its kind in the country. The bills are likely to become signed into law by the governor and include establishing a greenhouse-gas sequestration task force to create a plan, Quartz reported.

The state could suffer $19 billion in damage due to projected sea level rise, the legislature found. With so much at stake, house bills 2182 and 1986 aim to help the Hawaii offset more carbon dioxide than it produces. HB1986 calls for a carbon offset program that takes revenues from the sale of carbon offset credits and puts them in a forest stewardship fund or invests them into projects that shore up the state’s water infrastructure or mitigate climate change threats to water sustainability.

Hawaii has taken steps over the past several years to rely more on renewable energy, including solar. In April, Hawaiian Electric announced it would partner with REC Solar and the US Navy on 20MW West Loch solar farm, projected to save customers $109 million over its expected 25-year lifespan.

REC Solar and Hawaiian Electric Company broke ground on a 20-megawatt, fixed-tilt solar facility, located at the US Navy’s Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam West Loch Annex. Once completed, the West Loch solar farm will produce the lowest-cost renewable energy in the state at less than 8 cents per kilowatt-hour.

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