Hawaii is pledging to go 100% renewable


In a 74-2 vote, Hawaii’s legislature passed a bill last week calling for 100 percent of its net electricity sales from renewable energy 2045.

House Bill 623 also sets a target of reaching 30 percent renewable energy by 2020, and 70 percent by 2040.

The state got 11 percent of its energy from non-hydro and non-rooftop renewable sources in 2013 (the most recent year for which Energy Information Administration) data is available, tied for 10th-most in the country and a 22 percent gain from 2012. Here are the rankings of renewable energy by state.

(By the state’s accounting it got 18 percent of its energy from renewables in 2013, and the legislation says it is ahead of its goal of reaching 40 percent by 2030).

Hawaii adds its name to a growing list of cities and countries going for or having achieved 100 percent renewable. We now have, for starters:

The state has the most expensive electricity in the country, since it must import all its fuel. As a result, it had until recently seen an explosion in rooftop solar installations as the worldwide cost of panels plunged and more people took advantage of net metering, which allows homeowners to sell power back into the grid.

As it turned out, Hawaiian utilities, known collectively as Hawaiian Electric, weren’t prepared to lose so revenue so fast, so it began permitting fewer and fewer installations.

But HECO is not against solar per se, and has an official plan to triple rooftop solar panel use by 2030, though they’ve proposed eliminating net metering to ease the financial burden of doing so, according to Yale Environment 360. They also just sold themselves to Florida-based NextEra Energy, raising concerns among rooftop solar installers that they will be edged out. A NextEra spokesman told Reuters that the company remains committed to hitting HECO’s solar goals.

The bill now goes before Governor David Ige.

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.

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