Hawaii has just passed a historic law, Act 97, that will make it the first state in the nation to get 100% of its energy from renewable sources. The goal is to make this happen by 2045.
This is big news for solar, which will inevitably play a big part in Hawaii’s energy future. Jeff Mikulina, Executive Director of the Blue Planet Foundation, said about the new law, “Hawaii is making history, not only for the islands, but for the planet. We are making a promise to future generations that their lives will be powered not by climate-changing fossil fuel, but by clean, local, and sustainable sources of energy.”
Hawaii has already been making great progress on shifting its energy reliance from fossil fuels to clean energy. The state currently gets 22% of its electricity from renewable sources, and in the past five years alone its renewable energy use has doubled. So while it is impressive that the state has enacted this new law, Hawaii has been leading the way into a more climate-friendly energy future for a while. “For more than a decade, Hawaii has consistently come out ahead on its clean energy goals,” said Richard Wallsgrove, Program Director for Blue Planet Foundation. “Overwhelming public support for renewable energy, rapid technological advances, and volatile oil costs are all driving us to replace fossil fuels sooner than we think.”
The plan is for Hawaii to get 30% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. To give utilities some extra motivation to follow through with this plan, they will be charged two cents for each kilowatt hour of excess fossil fuel electricity if they fail to meet this goal.
The law was passed with the help of the Blue Planet Foundation — an organization that promotes the use of clean energy — and a group of over 500 student advocates statewide who sent letters to lawmakers to support the new law. The Blue Planet Foundation drafted the legislation of the law and drove the grassroots campaign that led to its success.
The state’s new goal caught the attention of President Obama’s Organizing for Action staff, who were excited enough about it to let the world know via twitter:
Reaching this goal will be beneficial for Hawaii in a number of ways, both financially and environmentally. And it will set an example, showing just how positive an impact having renewables be a main energy source can be. Hopefully, this will lead the way for more states to adopt similar requirements.
“This week we put an expiration date on fossil fuel use,” said Hank Rogers, President of Blue Planet Foundation. “Hawaii is sending a signal to the world that 100% renewable energy isn’t just a vision, it’s a commitment.”