Blue Planet is Hawaii's leading clean energy advocate. Since 2007, we have driven key policy outcomes that are changing the status quo and raising the ceiling of possibility.
We were the lead advocate for the nation’s first 100% renewable energy requirement. After years of pushing for the fossil fuel free vision, Blue Planet launched a broad public campaign in 2015 that engaged community leaders, students, and countless residents to show their support. The movement was successful, and the legislature passed the aggressive law in a 74-2 vote. This bold policy has since changed the conversation about energy in Hawaii—and beyond.
Many residents are surprised to learn that Oahu’s largest power generator burns coal. Thankfully, the electric utility’s contract with the plant is set to expire in 2022. Blue Planet Foundation successfully fought against a plan that would have expanded the coal plant’s capacity for the 7 years leading up to the expiration. We hope that innovative new uses for the plant will emerge, like large-scale energy storage. That’s a clean energy solution we could get behind.
After a multi-year effort, we helped pass a law that creates a community-based renewable energy program—or “community solar”—in Hawaii. The program aims to dramatically expand the number of Hawaii residents and businesses who can access the benefits of clean energy. With many residents living in multi-unit buildings or otherwise not able to place solar on their rooftop, community renewables will provide an option to bring clean energy to all.
In the state’s long-running debate over what investments to make in our energy system, Blue Planet Foundation successfully sparked a better approach to planning the transition to 100% renewable energy. Working with University of Hawaii engineering professor Matthias Fripp, we helped to introduce a more transparent, reproducible method for determining the optimal mix of renewable resources, making electricity as clean and inexpensive as possible.
Blue Planet Foundation helped to pass a law that sets in motion the creation of an “on-bill financing” program where residents and businesses can pay for renewable energy or energy efficiency simply through the savings that those technologies provide. We are still working to help put this legislation into action, through an on-bill repayment mechanism for the state’s clean energy loan program targeted at renters, non-profits, and low-income households.
Our utility’s compensation structure will soon be better aligned with the public interest, thanks to a law on performance-based regulation that Blue Planet helped to pass. In the future, Hawaiian Electric's revenues could be based on metrics like customer satisfaction, increased renewable energy, greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and lower costs. We’re now working to help design these metrics as an official stakeholder in the regulatory process.
Blue Planet Foundation forcefully opposed a plan to spend more than $1 billion on liquefied natural gas (LNG), including new pipelines, a new power plant, and other long-lived investments that would slow the transition to 100% renewable energy. LNG is a fossil fuel and a potent greenhouse gas. It is drilled from wells just like oil. On the U.S. mainland, LNG is often extracted using damaging fracking techniques. In the face of opposition, and along with rejection of the proposed merger with mainland utility NextEra, the plan was withdrawn. The gas utility still has a plan to import vast quantities of LNG, hoping to use this fossil fuel in power plants and in the transportation sector. Blue Planet Foundation will continue to fight investments in new fossil fuels.
Rooftop solar power is revolutionizing our energy system and launched the local solar energy industry. But in 2016, customers lost the option of exporting solar power from their roofs. Blue Planet Foundation has worked with the solar industry and other renewable energy supporters to push for new customer choices. For example, time-of-use energy rates help to match the supply of renewable power with demand for electricity, while also empowering customers to lower their energy bills. We are continuing to push for new ways of enabling all residents and businesses to generate clean power.
Blue Planet Foundation has long advocated for a tax on carbon to support clean energy. In 2010, we helped pass into a law a policy that levies $1 on each barrel of oil imported into Hawaii with a portion of the funding being used to support clean energy programs. The critical elements of Hawaii’s clean energy future—energy efficiency, smart-grid infrastructure, planning and implementation—require up-front investment. We believe that the best way to provide these funds is by tapping the source of our problem—imported oil—to fund clean energy programs. Market research conducted by Blue Planet Foundation found that over two-thirds of Hawaii residents support paying an additional amount on their energy bills if the revenue was dedicated to Hawaii’s clean energy future.
Blue Planet Foundation was a leading voice in advancing bold new long-term clean energy standards in 2009. The law, developed out of the nascent “Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative,” increased the utilities’ renewable energy requirement from 20% by the year 2020 to 25% by 2020 and 40% by 2030. That was the most stringent renewable energy target in the nation at the time. The new law also set targets for energy efficiency, requiring that the state reduce its energy use by 30% by 2030 (the actual target was a reduction of 4,300 gigawatt hours, which is equivalent to what 716,000 typical Hawaii homes consume in a year).