Hawaii shuts down last coal plant in a bid to be 100% renewable

US Oil & Gas Association President Tim Stewart reacts to Europe’s moves to reduce energy consumption on ‘Cavuto: Coast to Coast’.

Hawaii shut down its last coal-fired power plant on Thursday as the state strives to become exclusively powered by renewable energy by 2045.

In a statement, Governor David Ige said he was encouraged to take the AES Corporation coal plant offline to reduce his state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s really about reducing greenhouse gases,” Ige told The Associated Press. “And this coal plant is one of the biggest emitters. Taking it offline means we will stop the 1.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases that have been emitted every year.”

The governor said his state has witnessed the impact of climate change firsthand, as it has experienced rising temperatures in Pacific Ocean waters, rising sea levels, intense storms and a severe drought.

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Hawaii receives its last shipment of coal from a barge docked in Honolulu, Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Hawaii State Energy Office via AP/AP Newsroom)

Hawaii’s Chief Energy Officer, Scott Glenn, called the situation dire: “We are already feeling the effects of climate change. It is neither fair nor just to ask other nations or states to act on our behalf if we are unwilling and unable to do so ourselves. . If we don’t, we drown.

The move is also in line with a law passed by the Hawaiian legislature in 2020 that banned the use of coal for power generation by 2033. The state would then transition to 100% renewable energy by 2045.

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While the bill and the decision to close the plant have been widely welcomed, some critics have pointed out that the renewable energy infrastructure that Hawaii will need to use is not yet in place, so the costs of energy will increase sharply.

“If you think climate change is going to end because we shut down that coal plant, today is a great day for you,” said Democratic Senator Glenn Wakai, also chairman of the Committee on Economic Development, Tourism and Technology. “But if you pay an electricity bill, it’s a disastrous day for you.”

Hawaii Governor David Ice speaks at the AES Corporation coal-fired power plant in Kapolei, Hawaii, during a ceremony marking the facility’s closure, Thursday, August 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones/AP Newsroom)

“What we’re doing…is switching from the cheapest fossil fuel to the most expensive fossil fuel,” Wakai added. “And we’re going to be subject to geopolitical issues over oil prices as well as access to oil.”

Hawaii Senate Minority Leader Kurt Fevella, a Republican, said the burden of covering new energy costs will fall directly on taxpayers.

Wind turbines and solar panels are shown in Kahuku, Hawaii, Monday, August 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones/AP Newsroom)

The fact that Hawaiian families are already doing what is necessary to reduce their energy use while paying the most in the country for home electricity is not sustainable,” he said. “While I think utility companies like HECO can do more to reduce the energy burden passed on to Hawaii’s ratepayers, I also think developers of renewable energy projects should also bear more of the costs of transmission.”

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Other states have passed a coal ban, but Hawaii will be the first US state to implement one. A 2015 law in Oregon banning coal production isn’t effective until 2035, and a similar ban on coal in Washington state, passed in 2020, begins in 2025.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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