The Aloha State Paves the Way for a Clean Energy Future

Hawai'i is riding a clean energy wave

By Wendy Becktold

November 6, 2018

Hawaii is riding a clean energy wave

Photo by Olivier Koning

A wave of groundbreaking clean energy bills has swept through Hawai'i. In April, Governor David Ige signed the Hawai'i Ratepayers Protection Act, which requires the Public Utilities Commission to establish performance-based metrics by 2020 that reward utilities for delivering cleaner energy and lower rates.

"This serves as a model for the rest of the country for how to realign the interests of investor-owned utilities with the public's and get them off fossil fuels," says Marti Townsend, director of the Sierra Club's Hawai'i Chapter.

In June, the governor signed H.B. 2182 into law, committing the state to a zero-emission and carbon-neutral economy by 2045. The bill also creates a greenhouse gas task force to identify best practices and policies for improving carbon-sequestration efforts. In addition, Ige signed H.B. 1986, which establishes a state-run carbon-offset program to mitigate carbon emissions.

Sierra Club members worked in tandem with other environmental groups to build support for the bills, participating in citizen lobby days at key points in the legislative calendar, writing letters to the editor, and attending hearings. "These bills mandate that policymakers be thinking about how they can incentivize their economic engines to be carbon-neutral," Townsend says. "This is the way we leapfrog into a sustainable future." 

This article appeared in the November/December 2018 edition with the headline "Aloha to Clean Energy."