Hit hard by high energy costs, Hawaii turns to the sun

Recognizing this reality, state officials have in recent years resumed encouraging the use of small-scale energy systems. To manage elec...


Recognizing this reality, state officials have in recent years resumed encouraging the use of small-scale energy systems. To manage electricity supply and demand, for example, Hawaii is offering up to $4,250 to homeowners in Oahu, home to about 70% of the state’s population, and Honolulu, to install home batteries with their solar systems, costing up to a third of the cost to do so. Utilities can operate these batteries between 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., when power demand typically peaks.

“It’s a good example of a good policy pivot with utilities and regulators saying, ‘We need to change our approach,'” said Bryan White, principal analyst at Wood Mackenzie, a research and advisory firm.

Unlike most countries, Hawaii burns a lot of oil to generate electricity – a common approach on the islands because the fuel is easier and cheaper to ship than natural gas.

“We are unique in that we are dependent on oil to generate more electricity than the rest of the continental United States combined,” said Marco Mangelsdorf, a senior lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who specializes in the politics of energy and has lived in Hawaii for much of his life.

Oil-fired power plants provided nearly two-thirds of Hawaii’s electricity last year, up from nearly three-quarters a decade earlier, according to the Energy Information Administration, a federal agency. Rooftop solar, by comparison, delivered about 14%, down from 6% in 2014, the first year for which the agency has such data.

The state had imported about 80% of its oil from Russia, Libya and Argentina, which offer quality the Hawaii refinery can process. The remaining 20% ​​came from Alaska.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Hit hard by high energy costs, Hawaii turns to the sun
Hit hard by high energy costs, Hawaii turns to the sun
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