Verizon Communications Inc. is publicizing Hawaii’s push to create 100 percent of its electricity from renewable resources over the next 25 years with a nationally distributed video showing Instagrammable scenes from the islands and testimonials from utility executives.
The video’s theme: Verizon is helping Hawaiian Electric Co. implement the nation’s most aggressive renewables policy by providing sensors that enable Hawaiian Electric to gather real-time information on its electric grid.
But the ad might come back to bite the telecommunications giant, with an environmental group accusing the company of using Hawaii to green wash its purportedly poor record on using renewables.
“A major new advertising campaign by the telecommunications giant Verizon brags that the company is helping Hawaii achieve 100 percent renewable power but fails to mention the fact that Verizon is an industry laggard on green power at just 2 percent and only has meager plans to up its use of clean energy to 4 percent,” the organization Green America says in a news release.
By contrast, AT&T has contracts to buy 820 megawatts of wind power and T-Mobile has committed to achieve 100 percent renewable by 2021, Green America said.
The ad has been featured on websites such as the home page of The Washington Post, Green America said.
Heidi Flato, a Verizon spokeswoman, responded to a request for comment by emailing a link to the company’s website.
Hawaii has become a standard-bearer for green energy advocates because of its push to adopt renewable resources, such as wind and solar, to produce electricity. State law requires 100 percent of electricity sold in the state to be produced by renewables by 2045.
Verizon’s video includes spectacular scenery and Hawaiian Electric executives embracing the vision of a green state and Verizon’s role in helping achieve the vision.
Colton Ching, who is helping modernize the company’s grids on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island as senior vice president for planning and technology, says in the ad Hawaii’s economy will suffer if it can’t reach the 100 percent renewables goal.
“If we can create our own energy, we can take care of this beautiful place I grew up in,” Shelee Kimura, senior vice president of business development and strategic planning for Hawaiian Electric, tells viewers.
What does Hawaiian Electric think of the accusations that Verizon is using Hawaii to burnish its own lackluster record on adopting renewables?
“We’re proud our innovative work is being showcased but Hawaii is the true star,” the company said in a statement. “The ad makes the point that our islands are places of remarkable beauty on the front line of climate change and that we’re the only state to set a 100 percent renewable energy goal.”
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