Hawaii has faced its share of issues when it comes to energy. Being physically disconnected from the mainland poses unique

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Hawaii has faced its share of issues when it comes to energy. Being physically disconnected from the mainland poses unique challenges when it comes to generating and distributing energy across the island. Now with technology and science growing by leaps and bounds, this has opened a highway of potential to revolutionize the energy sector for this state.


In 2013, Hawaii imported over 90% of the energy it consumed. As a result of this, in 2014, the state had the highest electricity prices in the nation. This is due to the fact that when crude oil prices rise, electricity rates follow. In some cases, electricity in Hawaii has soared to more than 30 cents per kilowatt per hour. The electricity system of the island is a regulated monopoly, run by the 2 main utility companies which are the Maui Electric Company and the Hawaiian Electric Light Company.

So it seems that a change in thought is needed to handle the basic production and distribution of energy. This has led Hawaii to attempt to materialize a major objective that will move this island state towards economic viability and energy sustainability.



Hawaii has become the first state in the U.S. to set a goal of producing 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources. The plan is to reach this goal by 2045. Hawaii can achieve this by focusing on implementing a decentralized renewable power system. This means an increase in the number of local utilities, coupled with a plan to install rooftop solar systems on 1 out of every 10 homes. It also means utilizing energy efficiency programs aimed at a reduction of consumer energy bills, as well as a cost-effective energy storage system.

To move in this direction, Hawaii has had 6 major organizations join forces to create Distributed Energy Resources Council of Hawaii. The organization is the first association formed in the U.S. to represent behind-the-meter, distributed energy resources. The D.E.R.C. will represent distributed energy and smart grid technologies within the state. The makeup of these companies are a battery energy storage system provider, a micro inverter manufacturer, a sustainable energy solution provider, an energy consulting firm, an intelligent energy storage and software provider, and a solar inverter manufacturer. The organization will interact with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, as well as monitor legislative opportunities.


Hawaii has a solid base to start with. It is one of only seven states that currently has installed geothermal capacity. Last year, almost 20% of Hawaii’s electricity generation from a renewable source came from geothermal energy. The state’s electricity generation from solar energy has also more than doubled in the past year. Hawaii has generated 29% of its renewable electricity from on rooftop solar panels across the islands.

Just recently, state utility Hawaii Energy announced plans to extend their energy efficiency program to 250,000 residential customers. The program is in cooperation with Opower (Opower is a U.S. software company), and will include home energy reports with detailed energy usage information. This will provide consumers the data and technology necessary to monitor and curtail their usage, which in turn leads to lower energy bills.


As we sit today, Hawaii produces roughly 21% of all electricity from renewable sources. Legislation signed last spring has vaulted this island towards a goal of 100% sustainability. Solar energy from the sun, geothermal energy from volcanism, and the ability to harness power from the wind makes Hawaii a perfect harmony to attaining such a lofty goal.

With these natural resources at their disposal, Hawaii need only look 5,000 miles to the east to see the nation of Costa Rica achieve the same desired results. Costa Rica has been running on 100% renewable energy since the beginning of 2015, thanks in part to sunshine, the ocean, and a whole lot of volcanos. With the knowledge that their goal is already proven to be attainable, Hawaii must simply stay the course, and continue to strive to reach the finish line.


Matt Helland




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