HECO says it hit record 13.9% from renewable energy in 2012

More in the state getting power from green resources

 UPDATED 10:37 PM HST Apr 29, 2013
Solar power panels
HONOLULU -

The number of people in Hawaii getting their power from renewable energy is surging.

Hawaiian Electric said on Monday that a record 13.9 percent of energy came from renewable sources last year.

"That includes solar, includes wind, geothermal on Hawaii island, waste-to-energy here on this island and our goal is to be, our next milestone is to is to be at 15 percent by 2015," said Hawaiian Electric Company spokesman Peter Rosegg.

From 12 percent in 2011 to 13.9 percent in 2012, Rosegg said HECO is well on its way to passing that goal.

"It's a long race yet to go, but it's always good to be, you know, ahead of the curve and that's where we are right now," Rosegg added.

Blue Planet Foundation executive director Jeff Mikulina said, "We need solar and wind to be the main sort of drivers to getting us to those higher percentages."

Hawaii's Clean Energy Initiative has set a goal of 40 percent by 2030. HECO said to hit that, we'll need many more big projects like Maui's Auwahi Wind Farm and First Wind's Kawailoa facility, and continued expansion of the Puna Geothermal Venture on the Big Island.

"We're going to issue a request for proposals for up to 200 megawatts," Rosegg said. "Very big requests for proposals for a lot of more renewable energy."

A lot of that could come from the ocean, by bringing cold, deep-sea water to the warmer surface and using that difference in temperature to create electricity in process known as ocean thermal energy conversion.

"That's the one technology which we don't have yet that we really, could make a huge difference," said Rosegg.

But some say the huge difference will only come when we get rid of non-renewable energy sources.

Mikulina said, "We want to see some of these fossil fuel power plants retired, and that's one thing that's missing from the equation so far is, when are we going to start retiring our fossil fuel units?"

The state legislature killed a bill last week that would have gradually reduced solar energy tax credits currently in place. Experts say this allows lawmakers to change the tax credit next year and may discourage investment in the industry.

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