|No, not California, but Hawai'i, is leading the way to minimizing fossil fuel burning in favor of renewables. Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO) on Tuesday announced their intention to triple the amount of rooftop solar in the state, just one part of a plan that the companies say will make Hawai'i the highest renewable energy-using state in the country. Climate Progress reports:
Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light — known together as HECO — proposed a package of initiatives that they said would help Hawaii generate 65 percent of its electricity from renewable energy and slash electric bills by 20 percent, all within the next 16 years. While admittedly vague on how the initiatives will be implemented and how they will impact prices, the package includes efforts to increase energy storage, develop smart grids, and support community solar projects. "Our energy environment is changing rapidly and we must change with it to meet our customers' evolving needs," Shelee Kimura, HECO’s vice president of corporate planning and business development said in a statement. "These plans are about delivering services that our customers value. That means lower costs, better protection of our environment, and more options to lower their energy costs, including rooftop solar."
Much of HECO’s plans include efforts to ensure the electric grid is stable in the face of more solar being installed. The utility said it would work closely with the solar industry to figure out just how much solar can be built and added to the grid every year without destabilizing it. It also said it would plan technological enhancements to the grid, as well.
If Hawaii can indeed begin getting more of its electricity from sources generated in-state, it is likely the state's electricity costs will decrease. Part of the reason electricity costs are currently so high there is because it is dependent on imported petroleum for 70 percent of its electricity generation. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Hawaii altogether imported 93 percent of its energy in 2012. At the same time, utility-scale solar generation in 2013 increased nearly six-fold.