Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) on June 8 signed into law four energy bills, including one that strengthens Hawaii’s commitment to clean energy by directing the state’s utilities to generate 100% of their electricity sales from renewable energy resources by 2045.
The legislation does say that Hawaii is “setting a goal” of 100% renewable energy by 2045.
The legislation does define “events or circumstances that are outside of an electric utility company’s reasonable control” that could hinder the goal. These include natural disasters, mechanical failures, failure of energy producers to meet contractual obligations, labor strikes or lockouts or changes in government policy that hurt the availability and affordability of renewable power.
The legislation language notes that Hawaii is in a transition period with many long-term agreements soon to be executed for new forms of imported fuels that may act as temporary “bridge” fuels until local sources of renewable energy can be developed.”
The measure increases the state RPS to 30% by Dec. 31, 2020, 70% by Dec. 31, 2040, and 100% by Dec. 31, 2045.
The big step taken by the state legislature in passing the landmark legislation (HB623) fulfills one of Ige’s policy objectives by making Hawaii the first state in the nation to set a 100% renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for the electricity sector.
“As the most oil dependent state in the nation, Hawaii spends roughly $5 billion a year on foreign oil to meet its energy needs. Making the transition to renewable, indigenous resources for power generation will allow us to keep more of that money at home, thereby improving our economy, environment and energy security,” Ige said. “I’d like to thank the senate and house energy committee chairs for championing HB623 and ensuring that Hawai‘i remains a national leader in clean energy.”
Another measure signed by Ige (SB1050) will help democratize renewable energy by creating a structure that will allow renters, condominium owners and others who have been largely shut out of Hawaii’s clean energy transformation, to purchase electricity generated at an off-site renewable energy facility, such as a large-scale solar project.
The bill establishing a community-based renewable energy program will be particularly valuable on O‘ahu where there is a high concentration of high-rise condominiums that lack sufficient roof space to support on-site solar panels. The law is also expected to provide relief to homeowners and businesses that are located on highly saturated circuits that cannot accommodate additional PV installations.
As of March 2015, there are about 56,000 PV/Solar systems on rooftops. The bill should help the 44% of Hawaii residents who don’t own their homes — and those without roof space, said state Sen. Mike Gabbard (D), who co-authored the bill while serving as chair of the Energy and Environment Committee.
In addition to the 100% RPS and community-based renewable energy bills, Ige signed into law a measure that sets a net-zero energy goal for the University of Hawaii System (HB1509) and another that designates a state hydrogen implementation coordinator (HB1296).