Hawai’i Clean Energy Day

Posted on Dec 6, 2016 in Main

Remarks of Governor David Ige as prepared

August 16, 2016 –YWCA Laniakea, Fuller Hall

This is a critical year for Hawai‘i to take action on who’s filling our policy leadership in this nation.  I think it’s so appropriate that the World Conservation Congress is coming to Hawai‘i and the focus for helping conservation and sustainability will be here in our islands.

The standing today is at 24%.  We have thus far met the challenge but obviously, it gets harder as we move forward.  As many would say, “we’ve picked the low hanging fruit in the system,” and it really does get to be a bigger challenge moving forward.

We are facing changing technologies that present challenges and opportunities, as we modernize our grid and add an increasingly less expensive portfolio of renewable energy resources into our integrated energy ecosystem.

I’ve shared the concerns over the challenges in maintaining momentum on interconnecting Hawai‘i’s record amount of distributed energy rooftop solar.  We expect technological improvements and continued price reductions in storage to play a big role in resolving this issue.  Energy stakeholders will come together on the appropriate tariffs and fees for distributed energy.

Coming together is a good theme for the coming year.  Now that the Public Utilities Commission has spoken on the Nextera merger, it’s time for everyone to come together and recommit to our shared clean energy future.  The solutions and people who can implement them are right here in this room.  All of you have been engaged and know best what’s required to move forward on such issues as harnessing, storing and dispatching renewables on the grid to addressing energy and transportation as we’ve taken that challenge on as we move forward.

Let me be clear.  My administration is committed to achieving the RPS goals completely and in an affordable way. The RPS has been the driving force for positive change and I’ve asked DBEDT Director Luis Salaveria to bring parties together to close any remaining loopholes in the RPS definitions and language.  I am hopeful that we have a bill ready for next session that represents a consensus of those of you here in this room on how to make 100% RPS the model for the rest of the world.

We also have some unfinished business before us in the need to resolve the LNG issue.  I continue to believe that LNG does not have a future for electrical power generation.  I believe it will be a distraction from the core task at hand and we need to focus on renewable energy as the way forward to lower energy systems cost and make Hawai‘i energy self-sufficient as soon as possible.

We’ve taken on the task of energy and transportation because as all of us in this room know, two-thirds of the energy we import is for transportation.  So it seems meaningless to talk about a 100% renewable energy goal for electricity without being willing to take on the challenge of fossil fuels in transportation.

Ford Fuchigami has done an excellent job of working with the EPA and the State Energy Office to bring more stakeholders together and begin to have the conversations and discussions so essential for plans for alternative fuel vehicles at the airport, rental shuttle buses and the Wiki Wiki shuttles.  I’m truly a believer in leading by example as we make a commitment to clean energy transportation in our community.

In this coming year, we anticipate action on two major policies that were passed in the last two sessions.  As you all know, at the same time that we committed to a 100% renewable portfolio standard, we also passed the community-based renewable energy program, Act 100, which will democratize renewable energy by allowing those who don’t have access to rooftop real estate to be able to participate in the benefits of clean energy transformation.  The program will enable these unserved consumers to purchase electricity generated at an offsite renewable energy facility.  We hope to have the program approved and rolling in 2017 with the goal of having projects up and running for 2018.  This community-based renewable energy program truly is a commitment to those who might not have the capacity to participate in this clean energy future.

Another important initiative underway paves the way for the University of Hawai‘i to work at getting its energy electricity bill to zero.  Act 99 requires the system to become a net zero user of energy across all campuses by January 1st of 2035.  We do believe this is an essential microcosm of what needs to happen as we embrace the challenge of getting to net zero.

We have been successful in meeting both our targets for increasing renewable energy use and reducing energy consumption to conservation and efficiency.  In fact, we are ahead of schedule on both, so congratulations to all of you directly involved with both of these challenges in our community.  On the renewable energy side, we are doing it with a diversified portfolio of resources because we really don’t want to become dependent on any one source as we expand our use of renewable energy.  Wind and solar are clearly the primary sources for renewable energy, each accounting for about 30 percent of the renewable energy generated in Hawai‘i.  Biomass includes Oahu’s H-power waste to energy plant and the new facility on Kauai.  Mr. Mayor, we were there when we blessed the project.  The facility makes about 22% of our renewable energy portfolio and right now, geothermal accounts for another 12%, and hydroelectric about 4%.

There are many challenges and opportunities to deal with as we move ahead.  No one has done this before and I’m reminded of that as I travel around the country to meet and talk about our 100% clean energy goal.  All the easy projects have been done or contemplated and it does get to be a lot harder moving forward.  We are challenged to find innovative ways to tap into Hawai‘i’s abundant natural clean sources of power, and the biggest challenge of all is energy storage and we all know it.  How can we store electricity so that it’s available when our consumers need it rather than when it can be generated?  But I do know and I’m confident that technology will advance and help us solve some of these challenges for which we don’t have economically viable solutions today.

A fundamental challenge, building the grids and interconnection infrastructure to make them accessible and affordable is still before us.  I do know that the Public Utilities Commission has several issues that are so fundamentally important on how we interconnect and build the infrastructure as we move forward.

Finally, the business model of the traditional utility has to be different.  They just cannot be the same.  The old model is based on the utility doing everything from generation and distribution to storage.  The 21st century model is more customer-centered with distributed local solutions all across the State.  How do we ramp up renewables without overbuilding or creating too much cost for the rate payer, and what portion should be borne by the rate payer versus the investor?  That, too, is a big challenge to be addressed.

Who will help us to get to the future?  A large group of people, public and private, needs to be involved.  Many entities in government, including the State Energy Office.  The Department of Transportation has taken the lead in transportation.  The Hawai‘i

Natural Energy Institute has been an active provider.  We know the regulatory organization, the Public Utilities Commission, the Consumer Advocate and others will all be involved with deciding the way forward.

We here in Hawai‘i are so fortunate to have the military and the U.S. Government as active partners in moving forward in energy transformation.  I recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Navy to strengthen our longstanding partnership and alliance, to leverage the human and investment capital and financial resources of the state and the federal government and the Department of Defense toward our shared vision for energy security and self‑sufficiency.  They have been tremendous partners moving us forward.  I do know, as I’ve traveled throughout Asia, that there is significant interest in Japan, Korea, China, the Philippines, and elsewhere, to be partners with us as we blaze the trail forward to a 100% clean energy future.

Hitachi and other private companies have been a partner on Maui as part of a smart grid research and development project to look at various means of storage to find out how best to deploy battery storage.  Hawai‘i has a history of engagement with Japan in the energy arena, particularly the Okinawa-Hawai‘i partnership on clean energy, and clean and efficient energy development and deployment.  The partnership has resulted in a host of productive exchanges between U.S. and Japan energy experts at the national and local levels, both in government and the private sector.

Working to make Hawai‘i an innovation leader is critical because that is what will attract the investment we need to achieve our ambitious clean energy goals.  It is innovative policies and actions like those pioneered in Hawai‘i that contributed to Ernst & Young ranking the U.S. as the world’s most attractive market for renewable energy investment for two consecutive years.

So I just wanted to invite all of you to be active participants and players as we work together.  We need to recognize individuals and organizations who have been doing the right thing and collaborating on energy.  We need to focus our goals for the common good and avoid distractions to work together for real progress in achieving a clean energy future for Hawai‘i.  To reach our energy goals, a whole energy ecosystem is being developed in the islands involving utilities, researchers, policymakers, the state, county and federal agencies, investors and entrepreneurs who want to contribute to the clean energy future.  We’re going to be honoring this afternoon six organizations for their transformation of technology projects and programs that are advancing Hawai‘i’s clean energy future.  As we recognize these outstanding folks, let’s recognize that only through our combined efforts that we will create a place that future generations can choose to call home.

Thank you very much for being part of this effort.