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Hawaii’s Going 100 Percent Renewable Without Using Natural Gas

Posted by on August 29, 2015 in Eco-Friendly, Environment with 0 Comments

Samantha Page | Think Progress


One out of every eight homes in Hawaii has solar. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/CALEB JONES

Hawaiian Gov. David Ige said this week he opposes plans to use natural gas as a “transitional fuel” for the island state as it moves to 100 percent renewable electricity. Ige said investment in infrastructure for LNG — or any fossil fuel — was misplaced, and he expressed doubt that there would be any monetary benefits to LNG proposals.

“LNG is a fossil fuel. LNG is imported. And any time or money spent on LNG is time and money not spent on renewable energy,” Ige told the audience at the Asia Pacific Resilience Innovation Summit and Expo in Honolulu on Monday night.

The governor’s remarks are especially significant because Florida-based NextEra Energy is trying to purchase Hawaii’s major utilities. NextEra is an electric utility that also produces natural gas, which makes up a large portion of its generation mix.

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Hawaii’s public utility corporation (PUC) is currently reviewing NextEra’s bid, after the board of the Hawaiian Electric Companies, which serve most of Hawaii between three providers, approved the deal. Hawaiians have voiced concern that NextEra will transition the state’s power fleet from oil to natural gas. Hawaii gets more of its electricity from oil than any other state — and it has the highest electricity rates.

Natural gas has long been touted as a “transitional” fuel — a lower-carbon option than burning coal that can be used until even lower-carbon options such as wind and solar ramp up. But methane emissions from LNG development, especially fracking, are even more potent than carbon in terms of trapping heat. Many environmentalists argue that the switch to natural gas is not an effective means of addressing climate change. And volatile prices can make installing new natural gas infrastructure risky.

But moving to natural gas might not help lower costs, said State Rep. Chris Lee, chair of Hawaii’s Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection.

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“When you factor in infrastructure to make LNG available, it may not pencil out,” he told ThinkProgress. And when you look at LNG’s cost “both economically and environmentally both here and at the source, then it definitely doesn’t pencil out.”


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