Big Island Has State’s Highest Renewable Energy Percentage

The Hawai‘i Electric Light Company announces that the companies achieved a consolidated 27% renewable portfolio standard in 2017, up from 26% the year before. The increase was achieved primarily by the addition of new grid-scale and private rooftop solar systems.

Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawai‘i Electric Light are well on their way to achieving the next mandated RPS milestone, 30% by 2020.

RPS represents the renewable energy used by customers as a percentage of total utility sales. Hawai‘i Island, with a mix of geothermal, solar, wind and hydroelectricity, had the highest renewable percentage at 57%, up from 54% in 2016. Maui County was at 34%, compared with 37% in 2016, and O‘ahu was 21%, up from 19% in 2016.

Maui saw a decline due to a decrease in the available wind energy. Maui Electric used 95% of the total wind power available, the highest percentage ever accepted from the island’s three wind farms.

The three companies also track the peak renewable energy production for the year. These peaks are typically achieved on sunny, windy days when demand for electricity is low and renewable production is high. The peak on Hawai‘i Island was reached on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017 when 83% of electricity demand was met by renewables. The peak was 77% on Maui on Sunday, June 4, 2017 and 53% on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 on O‘ahu.

On O‘ahu, the 27.6-megawatt Waianae Solar project began operation in early 2017 and is the largest solar installation in the state. Private rooftop solar accounted for more than 70% of the 109 megawatts of new PV generation that came online on the five islands of the companies’ service territory last year. Annually, those new resources will displace more than 350,000 barrels of oil used for power generation.

The next milestone on Hawai‘i’s path to 100%, renewable energy will be in 2020 when the renewable portfolio standard requirement is 30%. The companies expect to integrate hundreds of megawatts of new renewable generation by mid-2019. There are four grid-scale solar projects and a biofuel-capable power plant under construction on O‘ahu and two grid-scale solar projects close to completion on Maui. Continued growth of private rooftop solar is expected on all islands.

In addition, Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawai‘i Electric Light intend to issue requests for proposals in two stages over the next two years for renewable resources planned through 2022. Those include:

  • 220 megawatts (MW) of renewable generation for O‘ahu
  • 100 MW for the island of Maui
  • 50 MW for Hawaii Island