The Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative has produced a plan that it says could satisfy nearly 100 percent of the Big Island’s electricity needs with renewable energy by 2030.

According to a February 10 statement from the co-op, its power plan would — if it were put in place — “move the Big Island faster and cheaper toward cost-effective clean energies.”

For the non-profit co-op to take action, it would need to take ownership of the Hawaii Electric Light Co. But there has been no public indication that the Big Island utility will be broken off from the Hawaiian Electric Co.

Ashley Kierkiewicz, left, passes out shirts and buttons in support of Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative before the PUC's listening session started.
Ashley Kierkiewicz, left, passes out shirts and buttons in support of the Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative before a Public Utilities Commission listening session on the Big Island last fall focusing on the NextEra-Hawaiian Electric merger. Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat

Similarly, NextEra Energy, which is seeking a green light from regulators to buy Hawaiian Electric, has said that it has no intention of selling off any part of the power company for at least a decade.

To put the plan together, the co-op analyzed the Big Island’s existing alternative energy materials, the potential for new solar and wind energy generation, and energy storage possibilities.

Their conclusion is that by expanding rooftop solar and wind power, and investing in utility-scale energy storage, they can achieve “a less expensive and cleaner alternative to previous plans” — including those involving importing liquefied natural gas into the state to generate electricity.

The co-op also highlighted the possibility of geothermal energy coming on line, if that is what the membership of the co-op and the elected board decides to pursue.

Read Civil Beat’s look at the Hawaii Island Energy co-op.

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