LIHUE — Hawaii has landed on a new list of states making big strides in renewable energy, tying with Vermont at number 14 on the list that looks at state policies and incentives as well as carbon emissions and renewable energy production.
Finance tech company SmartAsset did the study that produced the list, and found overall renewable energy production has generally increased throughout the United States since about 2013.
Other general results showed a potential lag in renewable energy development in the southern states, as seven of the bottom 10 of the list were in the South or Southeast, including Arkansas, Delaware, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama and West Virginia.
California earned the No. 1 spot on the survey because the state has the largest number of policies and incentives to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.
That was combined with having the second-lowest carbon emissions per capita in the study.
Hawaii landed at number 14, with data showing renewable output has reached 100 percent of total output and a 3.29% change over the past five years in renewable output. Carbon emissions per capita are at 12.91 metric tons, according to the study, compared to California’s 9.2 metric tons per capita.
It’s just one study of many, but Hawaii has been making strides on the statewide goal of reaching 100% renewable energy by the year 2045.
That in itself is something David Bissell, president and CEO of the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, said puts Hawaii in front of other states when it comes to renewable energy.
“Regardless of rankings, Hawaii is on a very good path compared to most other states, namely because we have a state-adopted mandate of reaching 100% renewable by the year 2045,” Bissell said.
“Only a handful of states have been this aggressive in terms of setting a clear path with deadlines.”
KIUC has its sights set on taking the title for the state. Bissell said he anticipates Kauai to be Hawaii’s leading renewable-energy-producing county in 2019, at roughly 50%, “or perhaps a little more.”
Projects in the wings at KIUC include development of the Westside pumped storage hydro project and deploying the AES solar-plus storage project at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands within the next year.
All those steps will bring Kauai to about 80% renewable by the year 2023 in KIUC’s estimation.
That “will be a remarkable achievement and put us in a position to monitor evolving technologies as we eventually close the gap to 100%,” Bissell said.
Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.