Why have we historically used oil?
In the past, it was efficient and economical to import crude oil, refine it into jet and marine fuel and gasoline and burn the low sulfur fuel residue to generate electricity. Today, concerns about energy security, our island economy and the global environment require that we move to a more sustainable way to power our lives.
In late 2014, the price of oil began to decline, reducing customers’ electric bills as well. This was a welcome relief after more than three years of higher bills due to record high oil prices following the Japan earthquake and tsunami. However, most energy experts believe oil prices will increase again in the future. That is why we’re so committed to increasing our use of renewable energy and increasing energy saving options for our customers.
The Hawaiian Electric companies are at the center of efforts to increase use of clean and renewable energy from sun, wind, waste-to-energy, biofuels, biomass and geothermal with the possibility of wave and ocean thermal energy in the future.
As we transition to ever cleaner, less expensive renewable energy we believe switching from oil to natural gas is a better fuel for this transition. Natural gas is a clean and low-cost fossil fuel abundantly available in North America. Our plans call for beginning to replace oil with natural gas for generation by 2019.
The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative
In October 2008, the State of Hawaii and Hawaiian Electric Companies signed a historic agreement that set aggressive goals for a state that was then 90 percent dependent on imported fossil fuels for energy needs. Hawaiian Electric had been an experimental leader in working toward more renewable energy since the 1970s, but this agreement increased and focused our efforts.
The energy agreement, part of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, put Hawaii on a path to 70 percent clean energy (30 percent through energy efficiency and 40 percent through renewables) by 2030. In 2009, the Hawaii State Legislature turned this voluntary goal into law. Act 155 increased Hawaii’s renewable portfolio standard to 40 percent and established an energy efficiency portfolio standard of 30 percent by 2030.
In 2014, the Governor of Hawaii, Hawaiian Electric Companies and the Hawaii Consumer Advocate agreed to the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative Energy Agreement to make way for “HCEI 2.0.” This next phase of the initiative will lay the foundation for going beyond 40 percent renewables, reassessing energy efficiency goals and recommitting to goals to reduce oil use for transportation, which uses about two-thirds of the oil Hawaii imports.
Global Warming Position
In January 2007, the Hawaiian Electric companies’ Board of Directors established this position on global warming:
"Hawaiian Electric Company shares the very serious concerns of many regarding the potential effects of global warming and human contributions to this phenomenon, including the burning of fossil fuels for electricity production, transportation, manufacturing, agricultural activities and deforestation.
To address global warming effectively, actions addressing all contributing sources must be taken with priority given to those that provide the greatest benefit for the costs involved. To be successful, the response to global warming requires commitment by private sector businesses, all levels of government, and every member of the public.
At Hawaiian Electric, we remain committed to taking direct action to mitigate the contributions to global warming from electricity production. Such action has and will continue to include promoting aggressive energy conservation and transitioning to clean, efficient and eco-effective energy production in all markets that we serve."