Hawaii Grows Renewables To Shrink Energy Costs

on May 07, 2013 at 2:30 PM

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Hawaii, which arguably needs renewable energy more than any other state, is making progress. A new report says that renewable generation for the Hawaiian Electric Company and its subsidiaries, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light, grew from 12 percent of energy needs in 2011 to 13.9 percent in 2012.

This increase was attributed to more rooftop and utility-scale solar across the state’s islands, increased wind energy on Oahu and Maui and more geothermal on the Big Island.

The state has a goal of 15 percent clean energy by 2015, and it looks to be making excellent progress on hitting that mark. But in Hawaii, clean energy is about more than just hitting some fairly arbitrary target.

“Most importantly, we need to keep pressing for more renewable energy to stabilize and lower customer bills, enhance the security of our way of life in Hawaii and protect the environment of our islands and the world,” Scott Seu, vice president for energy resources and operations, said in a statement [PDF].

No kidding about the cost.

Hawaii has the highest electricity rates in the nation – a whopping 37 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to the February 2013 EIA Electric Power Monthly (see page 122). That’s a result of the state getting about three-quarters of its electricity from imported petroleum.

Solar is the most obvious clean energy source for Hawaii – and plenty of homeowners and businesses are taking advantage of it. Overall in 2012, Hawaii saw 109 megawatts of solar electric capacity installed, seventh most in the U.S., giving it a total of 191 MW, which ranks ninth. Pretty impressive, considering that the state ranks 40th in population.

And wind is on the rise, as well.

In November last year the Kawailoa Wind on Oahu’s North Shore went into commercial operation, delivering up to 69 megawatts of power. That could translate to burning 300,000 fewer barrels of oil each year to produce electricity on the island, developer First Wind said. Also in 2012, First Wind fired up a Maui project, Kaheawa Wind Power II, that consists of 14 wind turbines capable of generating 21 MW of energy.

Pete Danko: May 7, 2013 via Earth Techling