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Maui County drew half of its energy from renewable sources in 2021

Renewable projects like Kaheawa Wind Power in Maalaea generated about 50 percent of Maui County’s energy in 2021. Wind led the way at 26 percent, followed by customer-sited solar at 22.8 percent. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The Maui News

Renewable energy sources, mainly wind and solar, powered about half of Maui County’s electricity needs in 2021, according to a recent report by Hawaiian Electric.

Of the three counties Hawaiian Electric services, Hawaii island led the way with 60 percent renewable energy, followed by Maui County at 50.2 percent renewable energy and Oahu at 32.8 percent renewable energy, according to the company’s 2021-22 Sustainability Report, released Tuesday.

Maui County, which reached a peak of 76.3 percent renewable energy on Sept. 26, relied primarily on wind, which made up 26 percent of its renewable energy, and customer-sited solar, which accounted for 22.8 percent. Grid-scale solar contributed 1.4 percent, followed by biofuels at 0.1 percent.

By contrast, Hawaii island drew mainly from customer-sited solar (18.6 percent), geothermal (17.6 percent) and wind energy (14.8 percent), along with a mix of biofuels at 4.5 percent, hydroelectricity at 4.1 percent and grid-scale solar at 0.4 percent. The island reached a renewable energy peak of 87 percent on July 1.

Oahu was also reliant on customer-sited solar at 16 percent and grid-scale solar at 6 percent. Waste-to-energy sources made up 5.9 percent of its renewable energy mix, followed by wind at 4.4 percent and biofuels at 0.4 percent. The island reached a renewable peak of 69.8 percent on March 17, 2021.

With 38 percent of customer electricity sales coming from renewable sources, Hawaiian Electric said it’s on track to meet its year-end 2030 goal of 40 percent renewable energy. The state has been making a push toward 100 percent by 2045.

“Faced with challenges stemming from the pandemic and global supply chain issues, we were still able to lower GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions and add more renewable energy to our island grids,” Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric President and CEO Shelee Kimura said in a news release Tuesday. “We’ll continue to reduce our dependence on imported oil each year so that we’re able to stabilize energy costs for our customers.”

By the end of 2021, Hawaiian Electric had surpassed 1 gigawatt of solar capacity across its five island grids.

The company said it was able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 22 percent last year compared to 2005 baseline levels, according to preliminary data. It aims to reduce emissions by 70 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

To do that, Hawaiian Electric plans to shut down the state’s last coal plant on Oahu in September and retire at least six fossil-fueled generating units while significantly reducing the use of others as new renewable resources come online, according to the report.

The company also aims to add nearly 50,000 rooftop solar systems to the 92,500 now online and add more renewable energy projects capable of generating a total of at least 1 gigawatt, including shared solar.

With demand for electric vehicles in Hawaii growing, Hawaiian Electric also plans to install and operate about 150 single-port DC fast-charging stations and 150 dual-port charging stations at roughly 75 sites through 2030, with about 60 percent of the sites on Oahu, 20 percent in Maui County and 20 percent on Hawaii island.

The company also said it’s working on projects to make the grid more resilient, including replacing more than 400 poles on Maui, Lanai and Molokai; installing more than 60 grid-protection devices on Maui to help prevent outages and limit service interruptions to a smaller number of customers; and installing weather stations at targeted West Maui facilities to actively assess drier and hotter weather patterns contributing to longer wildfire seasons produced by climate change.

On Molokai, crews replaced 5 miles of traditional power lines with heavier, insulated conductors to help prevent outages when tree branches and other debris fall on power lines or damage electrical equipment.

To view the full report, visit hawaiianelectric.com/clean-energy-hawaii/sustainability-report.

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