News Release

Hawaii Aims for 100 Percent Energy Renewables: “Can the Nation Follow?”

This week Hawaii Governor David Ige signed a bill into law mandating that the state’s utilities turn to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045, making Hawaii the first state in the U.S. to pass such a law.

EVAN WEBER, evan at usclimateplan.org, @evanlweber
Weber is the executive director of U.S. Climate Plan. He was born and raised in Kailua, Hawaii. He is the co-author of the recent Newsweek op-ed, “Hawaii is Aiming for 100 Percent Energy Renewables. Can the Nation Follow?” “With rising seas already lapping at the foundations of the hotels along Waikiki Beach, Hawaii’s climate debate is over. The Aloha State is successfully proving that a clean and safe renewable-energy economy can save consumers money, create jobs and hedges against the worst impacts of climate change.”

The op-ed states that the rest of the country should look to surpass Hawaii’s climate goals: “If Hawaii can make renewables work on isolated island electrical grids, the rest of the nation — with the flexibility to transmit excess power between states in the event of strong winds in Iowa or excess solar generation in Arizona — can certainly accomplish even more.

“Fortunately, other states can also benefit as renewable energy is becoming cost-effective everywhere. For 93 percent of single family households in the nation’s 50 largest cities, North Carolina State University researchers found that investing in solar panels is cheaper than paying current electric bills.

“Moreover, burning fossil fuels significantly increases costs to taxpayers. According to a recent study the journal Climatic Change, U.S. fossil fuel power plants create between $330 and 970 billion worth of climate damages and negative health effects every year. That’s over $600,000 every minute.

“In Hawaii, taxpayers are already paying for those passed-on costs as state and county governments are forced to spend millions each year fighting impacts of climate change such as rising seas, diminishing rainfall, and increasingly frequent storms. Over five inches of sea level rise in recent decades has been a contributor to the erosion and total loss of Waikiki Beach, which few realize is now completely artificial. Without costly sand replenishment, losing that premier beach would result in an estimated $2 billion annual loss to our economy. …

“Urgency is critical, and Hawaii is not alone. California, in the fourth year of its record drought, is expected to lose $3 billion in crops in coming months and has imposed water restrictions on cities. NASA reports there is an 80 percent chance of a decades-long drought far more damaging than this one if we fail to take bold action to reduce fossil-fuel emissions.

“Climate inaction further threatens to cause more frequent and intense storms like Hurricane Sandy, which cost Northeastern states a whopping $65 billion as waters warm and sea levels continue to rise.”