The Civil Beat Editorial Board on Monday stated “the Legislature approved a goal to move Hawaii to 30 percent renewable energy sources by 2030 (we’re currently at 22 percent) and to 100 percent by 2045.”

The statement is wrong on three different levels. Civil Beat is not alone in misunderstanding state law.

Electric meter / Electricity meter


First, the bill focuses only on electricity which accounts for less than one-third of the energy consumed in Hawaii. Twenty-two percent renewable electricity means Hawaii gets 7 percent of its total energy from renewable resources. Most energy is used for ground and air transportation.

Second, Hawaii Revised Statutes defines renewable energy in a way that does not make sense. All biofuel is renewable no matter how it is made or where it is grown. Fossil fuel derived hydrogen can be counted as renewable energy if it is converted to electricity under specific conditions. These are just a few of the misguided definitions.

Third, percent does not mean what most people think it means. Suppose Kahooloawe were to have two permanent buildings built on the island. A coal-burning Maui Electric Co. power plant produces 1 unit of energy per year. A Department of Hawaiian Home Lands building with solar panels on it which produce two units of energy per year. The island produces and consumes 3 units of energy per year. Under state law the island would have an RPS of 200 percent.

It is all written in HRS 269-91.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a current photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.

About the Author