Hawaii was the first state to set a 100% renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS) after House Bill 623 was passed in 2015. The goal is for the state to be fully powered with renewable energy by 2045, and it is well on the way at 22%.

The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) is a framework of statutes and regulations signed in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Department of Energy to collaborate on the reduction of Hawaii's heavy dependence upon imported fossil fuels. Thermal generation makes up 70% of the state's portfolio, powered by fuel oil, liquefied natural gas and coal. State leaders want to move away from relying on imports and move toward renewable energy sources, as the state has some of the best weather conditions in the central Pacific Ocean. The move to renewable energy also will help to create more jobs and help the local economy. In addition, customers will see savings in their electric bills, which are some of the highest in the U.S.

Hawaii also is studying the environmental and economic impact of developing an undersea power transmission cable, which would connect several islands and spur the development of 400 megawatts of renewable energy.

Industrial Info is tracking 12 renewable energy power projects in Hawaii valued at $629 million. This includes five solar projects worth $305 million, three biomass projects worth $70 million, two hydro projects worth $120 million and two wind projects worth $135 million.

Geothermal energy also is an option for power production in the state, which has many volcanoes and shallow-depth magma (molten rock), which are as close to the surface as 1.9 miles. This geothermal energy source could substantially increase renewable energy development in certain geographic areas of some islands and create much-needed economic benefits.

A key Senate committee passed House Bill 1580 this month, which would set a goal of powering all ground transportation in Hawaii with renewable fuel by 2045. Electric vehicles, which are becoming more commonplace, would increase, but the bill would not affect the commercial trucking industry, which is primarily gas- and diesel-powered.

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