BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 16 June '15

State governor signs shift to clean power and democratisation of renewable energy into law

David Ige, Governor of the State of Hawaii, has signed four energy bills into law, including one that directs the state’s utilities to generate 100% of their electricity sales from renewable sources by 2045.

The landmark legislation (HB623) makes Hawaii the first US state to set a 100% renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for the electricity sector.

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Ending oil dependence

As an oil-dependent state, 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.

‘I’d like to thank the senate and house energy committee chairs for championing HB623 and ensuring that Hawaii remains a national leader in clean energy.’

David Ige, Governor of Hawaii

Democratising clean energy

Another measure signed by Ige (SB1050) will help democratise renewable energy. Renters, condominium owners and others who have been largely shut out of Hawaii’s clean energy transformation will be able to purchase electricity generated at an off-site renewable energy facility, such as a large-scale solar farm.

‘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% of Hawaii 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.’

Sen. Mike Gabbard, chair of the Energy and Environment Committee and co-author of the bill

Relief to homeowners

The bill establishing a community-based renewable energy programme 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 can’t accommodate additional PV installations.

‘Renewable energy projects are already producing cheaper power than new fossil fuel projects in Hawaii, 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. The faster we move toward renewable energy the faster we can stop exporting billions from our local economy to import expensive fossil fuels.’

Rep. Chris Lee, Chair of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee

Leading on innovation

Luis Salaveria, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, commented that state’s commitment to clean energy has already attracted entrepreneurs and businesses from around the world, looking to develop, test and prove emerging technologies and strategies in Hawaii.

‘Raising the bar for renewable energy in Hawaii will also push the state to stay out in front on innovation. We are finding ways to be innovative both with technical solutions and financing structures that will help us meet our ambitious renewable energy goals.

Mark Glick, administrator, State Energy Office

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 Hawai‘i  System (HB1509) and another that designates a state hydrogen implementation coordinator (HB1296).

Click here to find out more about David Ige, governor of the state of Hawaii.