After A Temporary Slowdown Due To The Pandemic, Renewable Energy Projects Have Regained Momentum And Are Continuing With Great Success!

With the supply chain tribulations abating, Hawaii’s utilities can vigorously strive towards achieving a green energy future by 2045.

Hawaii is quickly becoming a leader in renewable energy, with plans to add several large-scale projects to help increase the amount of renewable energy used for each island. In 2021, Hawaii Island has already achieved 60% RPS (renewable portfolio standard), and the new projects would boost that by an additional 1.9 percentage points. 4.5 percentage points could potentially increase Maui County’s current 50.2% RPS, while Oahu’s 32.8% RPS could jump up 6.65 percentage points if these projects come to fruition.

A map published by the Hawaii State Energy Office shows that more than two dozen utility-scale renewable energy projects have either recently been completed or are scheduled for completion in the next few years. Of course, such large-scale projects come with risk; developers must navigate potential community opposition and ensure they meet all applicable state and local government regulations and guidelines – something which can prove quite time-consuming and costly if legal challenges arise from nongovernmental organizations or other sources.

Fortunately, Hawaiian Electric – one of the main providers of electricity in Hawaii – is taking steps to ensure these projects are successful. And they are dining so by engaging with communities affected by proposed developments as well as requiring bidders for their third phase of projects on Maui and Oahu to include packages containing community benefits such as paying prevailing wages or hiring local workers when possible. All of these are then included in contracts between companies and Hawaiian Electric themselves once approved. Lance Collins, a Maui lawyer who has represented NGOs opposing some past projects, believes this is an important step forward in protecting both natural and cultural resources while also fast-tracking development at the same time. However, he does the question: what future are we saving if we’re destroying all of our other values in the process?

On the surface, it sounds like a valid concern but Ryan Hurley, another lawyer who works on cases involving energy projects, suggests a solution; incorporating binding community benefits agreements negotiated between those affected by such developments into law or statute before said the project can be approved. This way, everyone involved can rest assured knowing environmental impact will be minimized while still allowing room for growth regarding renewable energy production across Hawaii islands, which is becoming increasingly important given recent data regarding climate change’s effects on our planet.

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