Hawaii: A Gimpse Into the future of the “green new deal”

Hawaii is a model of the impact of applying carbon free electricity generation policies before storage technology catches up. “Green Policies” do not necessarily result in “Green Power” as I will close with the actual power generation in real time.  As an engineer specializing in efficient and clean coal power generation for five decades, whenever a coal plant shutdown is in the news, it catches my attention. So, when I read about the plans to shut down the 180 MW, AES Barbers Point Coal Plant near Honolulu, it caught my eye.


The title of the article in the Honolulu newspaper sums it up nicely: “Our Cheapest Power Is About to Go Away……. In 2016, HECO paid AES Hawaii an average of 5 cents per kilowatt hour. During the same period, wind was about 20 cents per kilowatt hour, solar about 21 to 23 cents.”

Hawaii is a perfect laboratory to show the effect of implementing extreme green policies on electric generation. Why? Because as islands, they are not connected to the US Grid. Therefore, the policies as implemented will create a fairly swift impact on electricity prices. According to the EIA, the highest retail electricity price in the U.S.A.:  Hawaii at $0.3099/kWh. https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=epmt_5_6_a

Digging a little deeper the plans for the future are for 52% Renewables by 2021 and 100% Renewables by 2045. https://www.hawaiianelectric.com/clean-energy-hawaii/integrated-grid-planning/power-supply-improvement-plan

As the Democrats in congress push for the new Green Deal, Hawaii offers an example of the adverse impact on electricity prices. Later, when Barbers Point is shut down, reliability could also become an issue. 

If you are interested in the fuel mix for generation on the island of Oahu, here is a link for the real time power generation. https://www.islandpulse.org  As this is written (0700 3/24/2020), I checked and 86% of the power was Fossil Fuels and of the 14% Renewables, they include 9% from the thermal waste to energy facility, 5% wind and because it was early morning, 0% solar.

I have always advocated a “Balanced Portfolio of Generation”. A plan to include LNG, Coal, Renewables, Oil and Waste to Energy would have been wiser, in my opinion.

Dick Storm

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