Hawaii Governor Focuses on Clean Energy Transition with New Laws

Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed into law a package of bills that advance the governor’s priorities to fight climate change and transition to a clean energy economy as soon as possible. The bills signed into law are HB1800 (Act 238) – Relating to Climate Mitigation, HB1801 (Act 239) – Relating to Energy Efficiency, HB2089 (Act 240) – Relating to Renewable Portfolio Standards, and SB2570 (Act 241) – Relating to Zero Emission Vehicle Fueling Rebates.

“Last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision limiting the federal government’s ability to fight climate change underscores why it’s so important for states to act and lead by example,” says Gov. Ige. “That’s why I’m proud to sign these four bills, as they ensure that Hawaii continues to move forward as a national and global leader in creating the strategies necessary to achieve a clean energy economy, being more energy efficient in state government, clarifying how we measure progress on renewable energy, and creating incentives for emerging technologies like hydrogen.”

In accordance with U.S. commitments and international agreements to act, Hawaii has set an interim target of at least 50% below 2005 emissions by 2030. The bill also requires and appropriates funds for the Hawaii state energy office to conduct a study to determine Hawaii’s pathway to decarbonization and identify challenges, opportunities and actions that will be needed to achieve those goals.

House Bill 1801 allows the state government to set an example in reducing energy costs and being more efficient. In a time of rising oil prices, taking steps to reduce electricity consumption in government can save everyone more money.

House Bill 2089 makes changes to the state’s calculation of its progress in switching to renewable energy. It used to be based on sales. But with HB2089, the state will now concentrate on actual generation. The purpose of this act is to amend the definition of “renewable portfolio standard” to more accurately reflect the percentage of renewable electrical energy generated in the state. It expands the events or circumstances that are beyond an electric utility company’s reasonable control to include non-renewable energy generated by electric generation facilities where the electric utility does not have direct control or ownership. It requires electric utility companies reporting annually on data and trends regarding customer retention and loss to help calculate the renewable portfolio standards.

Senate Bill 2570 encourages the development of more hydrogen vehicles. This is especially important to medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, such as trucks and semis, and other emerging transportation technologies. In consultation with zero-emission vehicle stakeholders, the Hawaii state energy office and the public utilities commission, the rebate program for zero-emission vehicles fueling systems will be administered. It may contract with a third party administrator to manage and operate the rebate. A rebate may be available to applicants who install a hydrogen fueling station. This is subject to the condition that the system stores or dispenses only renewable hydrogen.