HAWAII, (WVNS) – According to CNN, Hawaii received its last shipment of coal in history, which will last the state through September, when the last remaining coal plant will be shut down for good.
Hawaii’s very last shipment of coal was sent to the AES coal plant in Oahu last Wednesday, July 27, 2022.
The remaining reliance on coal in Hawaii has been phased out in the past few years. The final coal plant is being shut down as a part of an aggressive shift toward renewable energy for the state.
In 2014, the state pledged to get to 100% renewable energy by 2045, the first state to make a net zero pledge—while also making attempts to phase out fossil fuels and overhaul its utility structure. In 2020, Senate Bill 2629 in Hawaii banned the use of coal for power on the islands. By that time, the owners of AES Hawaii had already announced the plant’s retirement. The pledge toward renewable energy sends a strong message about the state’s intentions.
“This week Hawai‘i is receiving its final shipment of coal. This is a huge step forward in Hawaiʻi’s transition to clean energy. In its time, coal was an important resource for Hawaii and I’d like to thank the workers who have run our last remaining coal plant. Renewable energy projects to replace coal are coming online with more on the way. Even as we face challenges in making this transition, it’s the right move for our communities and planet. Most importantly, it will leave Hawaiʻi a better place for our children and grandchildren.”Governor David Ige (D-HI)
Hawaii’s energy mix has traditionally relied heavily on coal and oil; it uses more oil for electricity than any other state. In 2015, more than 67% of its electricity generation came from oil, while more than 15% came from coal. These fossil fuels are all imported from out of state like the last coal shipment received last week.
The level of imports into the state make Hawaii’s electricity costs the highest in the country and nearly three times the national average.
Renewable energy has made significant inroads in recent years. According to the EIA, solar installations nearly doubled from 2015 to 2020, thanks in large part to an increase in rooftop panels. In 2021, according to a report from utility Hawaiian Electric, renewables provided more than half of all power for both Hawaii and Maui counties, the second- and third-most populous counties in the state.
But there are difficulties with the state’s transition, including the closure of the AES plant in September. The plant’s owners, the AES Corporation, said that some of the renewable projects it had intended to use to replace the coal plants have not come online yet due to a variety of issues, including supply chain problems. The company said that it would be burning oil in the interim.
“We still have a few curves in the road to negotiate because the short-term challenge here is that as we close this coal plant in September, we don’t have as many renewable projects coming online immediately. And so the reality is that residents here on Oʻahu are going to see higher costs in the short term.”Sandra Larsen, Market Business Leader for AES Hawaii
The struggles that Oahu may have replacing power from the retiring plant could foreshadow similar challenges in the rest of the state as it shifts to renewable energy.
“We’ve got a harder race to run because we’re taking six standalone grids, in the middle of the ocean, to a 100% renewable energy for electricity — and we’re starting from a high fossil fuel starting point,”Scott Glenn, head of the Hawaii State Energy Office