New law requires renewable energy
Power conservation would save the state 110 million barrels of oil over 14 years
HILO » Gov. Linda Lingle signed a bill yesterday that requires Hawaii power companies to have 20 percent of their energy produced from renewable sources by the year 2020.
Senate Bill 3185 also requires a number of other changes to move the state toward energy conservation.
"This is a fundamental shift in energy policy framework," said Ted Liu, head of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
The greater emphasis on renewable energy will save the state from burning 110 million barrels of oil over the next 14 years, equivalent to two full years of oil consumption, Liu said.
It will also keep $6.3 billion in the state economy instead of sending it overseas to buy oil, he said.
Lingle noted that power companies now collect about $20 million a year to be used for conservation. That is a conflict because if they do conserve, they will earn less money. The bill switches that conservation money to a separate conservation fund outside the utilities' hands.
In like manner, utilities can now pass through to customers any increases in oil prices. Since the cost does not come out of their pockets, they have no incentive to conserve when oil prices go up, Lingle said. The new law makes the power company pay a portion of the increased oil prices.
Lingle noted the bill was a "collaborative" effort, meaning it had wide support from both Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature.