Hawai‘i depends more on petroleum for its energy needs than any other state in the nation. Less than 1% of electricity in the United States is generated using oil. Hawai‘i relied on oil for 69.4% and on coal for 13.2% of its electricity generation in 2015.In 2016, over 29 million barrels of oil were imported into Hawai‘i according to the State of Hawai‘i Energy Office’s report in May of last year.It is no surprise then that Hawai‘i also has the highest electricity rates in the country.The average residential electricity rate in 2011 was $.35/kWh, which decreased to $.28 in 2016 as the price of oil declined.On average, households spent more than $825 per year on oil to power their homes in 2014 and as a state Hawai‘i spent at least $1.3 billion on foreign oil.
This reliance on oil is why the State of Hawai‘i has committed to achieving 100% clean energy by the year 2045. To achieve this, island families and businesses will need to play an important role in reducing their energy consumption, shifting when they use energy, and in many cases install renewable generation and storage systems.This is in addition to the numerous utility scale projects that will also need to be installed.
With a significant focus on Hawai‘i’s ambitious 100% clean energy goal, many often overlook the state’s Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS) of a 4,300 GWh reduction, 30% of forecasted demand, by 2030.Implementing energy efficiency will reduce overall energy demand, which decreases the amount of electricity generation the state will need to build while enabling businesses and residents to save money on their energy bills.Hawai‘i is now at 25% clean energy, however were it not for energy efficiency, in large part due to the efforts of Hawai‘i Energy, this figure would actually be 21%.
Who is Hawai‘i Energy?In 2008 upon the signing of the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative, the Hawai‘i Legislature authorized the Hawai‘i Public Utilities Commission to oversee energy efficiency and demand-side management programs, funded by the Public Benefits Fee, which is paid by electric utility customers. As a result, the Hawai‘i Energy Efficiency Program was formed and Leidos has acted as its program administrator since 2009. During that time period, Hawai‘i Energy has achieved over $1.2 billion in customer bill savings over the life of installed measures through the reduction of 1.76 billion kilowatt-hours in lifetime energy savings to customers. These programs and incentives have enabled Hawai‘i to achieve a quick start towards its 100% clean energy future.However, with the increase of photovoltaic generation and the reduced daytime load, energy efficiency and the associated programs and incentives have started to evolve.
Based on new analysis titled, “Transcending Oil: Hawai‘i’s Pathway to a Clean Energy Economy,” authored by Rhodium Group, found that if oil prices remain low and the cost of renewables declines only modestly, the cheapest pathway would achieve 58% renewable energy by 2030—higher than our current goal of 40%. They also found that if oil prices rise and the cost of renewables declines more rapidly, we could achieve 84% renewable energy by 2030 and save the state up to $7 billion dollars in total.
Energy efficiency remains the quickest and cheapest clean energy resource. At a lifetime cost of a little over 2 cents a kilowatt hour, there isn’t a more cost-effective option available.Therefore further investment in energy efficiency combined with incentives, financing, programs, and technical assistance remain a key focus in the near term while concurrently accelerating renewable energy project deployment.
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