Friday, August 28, 2015

Hawaii’s Going 100 Percent Renewable, and It’s Not Using Natural Gas as a ‘Transition’

One out of every eight homes in Hawaii has solar. (Credit: AP Photo/Caleb Jones) Click to Enlarge.
Hawaiian Gov. David Ige said this week he opposes plans to use natural gas as a “transitional fuel” for the island state as it moves to 100 percent renewable electricity.  Ige said investment in infrastructure for LNG — or any fossil fuel — was misplaced, and he expressed doubt that there would be any monetary benefits to LNG proposals.

“LNG is a fossil fuel.  LNG is imported.  And any time or money spent on LNG is time and money not spent on renewable energy,” Ige told the audience at the Asia Pacific Resilience Innovation Summit and Expo in Honolulu on Monday night.

The governor’s remarks are especially significant because Florida-based NextEra Energy is trying to purchase Hawaii’s major utilities.  NextEra is an electric utility that also produces natural gas, which makes up a large portion of its generation mix.

Hawaii’s public utility corporation (PUC) is currently reviewing NextEra’s bid, after the board of the Hawaiian Electric Companies, which serve most of Hawaii between three providers, approved the deal.  Hawaiians have voiced concern that NextEra will transition the state’s power fleet from oil to natural gas.  Hawaii gets more of its electricity from oil than any other state — and it has the highest electricity rates.
But moving to natural gas might not help lower costs, said State Rep. Chris Lee, chair of Hawaii’s Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection.

“When you factor in infrastructure to make LNG available, it may not pencil out,” he told ThinkProgress.  And when you look at LNG’s cost “both economically and environmentally both here and at the source, then it definitely doesn’t pencil out.”

Instead, Lee said, the state should be investing in more renewable energy sources.

“There’s all kinds of new technology and offshore renewables that we can integrate into our grid right now,” he said.
Hawaii is arguably the most renewable state in the nation. One out of every eight homes has solar power, and the state’s commitment to use 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 is the most aggressive renewable portfolio standard in the country.

Read more at Hawaii’s Going 100 Percent Renewable, and It’s Not Using Natural Gas as a ‘Transition’

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