Gov. David Ige today 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 percent of their electricity sales from renewable energy resources by 2045.
The bold step taken by the Hawai‘i State Legislature in passing the landmark legislation (HB623) fulfills one of Ige’s policy objectives by making Hawai‘i the first state in the nation to set a 100 percent renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for the electricity sector.
“Setting a 100 percent renewable portfolio standard will help drive investment in Hawai‘i’s growing clean energy sector,” said Luis Salaveria, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. “Our commitment to clean energy has already attracted entrepreneurs and businesses from around the world, looking to develop, test and prove emerging technologies and strategies right here in Hawai‘i.”
“Raising the bar for renewable energy in Hawai‘i will also push the state to stay out in front on innovation,” said Mark Glick, administrator, State Energy Office. “We are finding ways to be innovative both with technical solutions and financing structures that will help us meet our ambitious renewable energy goals.”
“Renewable energy projects are already producing cheaper power than new fossil fuel projects in Hawai‘i, and it’s only going to get cheaper as renewable technology advances, unlike fossil fuels which will only grow more expensive as they become more difficult to extract from a shrinking supply,” added Rep. Chris Lee, Chair of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee. “The faster we move toward renewable energy the faster we can stop exporting billions from our local economy to import expensive fossil fuels.”
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 Hawai‘i’s clean energy transformation, to purchase electricity generated at an off-site renewable energy facility, such as a large-scale solar farm.
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 who 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. These folks are saving tremendously on their electricity bills. That’s great, but what about the 44 percent of Hawai‘i residents who don’t own their homes? And those without roof space? SB 1050 allows people to form a hui, find a piece of land, and purchase or lease however many PV panels they want and then get a credit on their electricity bill for the energy they produce. We spend $3-5 billion annually buying fossil fuels; this is an awesome concept that will help keep some of that money here to help our economy,” said Sen. Mike Gabbard, who co-authored the bill while serving as chair of the Energy and Environment Committee.
In addition to the 100 percent RPS and community-based renewable energy bills, Ige signed into law a measure that sets a net-zero energy goal for the University of Hawai‘i System (HB1509) and another that designates a state hydrogen implementation coordinator (HB1296).