Hawaii outlines renewable energy
Oct 21, 2008 - Mark Niesse - The Associated
Hawaii's largest utility has signed on to a plan
to move the state away from dependence on fossil
fuels for electricity and ground transportation.
The goal is to create 70 percent of Hawaii's energy
use from clean energy sources by 2030. Currently,
the state gets about 10 percent of its energy from
Under the latest agreement, Hawaiian Electric
Co. commits to not build any new coal plants, integrate
up to 1,100 megawatts of renewable energy into the
power grid and convert existing fossil fuel generators
to biofuels using locally grown crops.
"We don't have years and years anymore to make
these changes," Gov. Linda Lingle said Monday. "These
are not hopes or dreams or wishes, these are our
specific plans that we hope to achieve."
The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy
is a major step for Hawaiian Electric, said Connie
Lau, chairwoman of the board of directors for the
utility, which powers Oahu, Maui and the Big Island.
"This is a historic moment for all of us, and
it really does take us far beyond what our companies
have done historically," Lau said.
But some of the biggest ideas in the overall deal
- including expensive undersea power cables to move
wind-generated energy between the islands - lack
funding or even cost estimates for how they'll become
The undersea cables, which could cost hundreds
of millions of dollars, would link potential wind
farms on Lanai or Molokai to population centers
on Maui and Oahu.
It's unclear exactly where the money will come
from. Private companies could step in, the state
may pursue revenue bonds, or Sen. Daniel Inouye,
D-Hawaii, could seek federal funds.
Inouye said it's essential that Hawaii emphasize
its energy independence efforts because of the state's
isolation and the steady long-term rise of oil prices.
"It's not going to be easy, but we must do it,
because of all the 50 states in the union, our state
is the most vulnerable," Inouye said. "We have no
fossil fuels, so we have to manufacture our own
Additional parts of the plan call for creating
incentives to encourage adoption of electric vehicles
and making it easier for customers to get credits
for electricity contributed to the power grid from
home solar or wind systems.
The agreement stems from the Hawaii Clean Energy
Initiative, a partnership between the state and
the federal Department of Energy launched in January
with the goal of making Hawaii a model for how the
United States can become energy independent.