Maui benefits from a unique environment with tremendous assets such as plentiful sunshine, consistent winds, and reliable ocean currents, waves and tides. Despite abundant natural resources, Hawaii is the most oil-dependent state in the country and relies heavily on imported oil to generate its electricity. Consequently, on average, Hawaii’s consumers pay nearly three times more for electricity than their counterparts on the mainland.
An ambitious plan statewide (the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative) is underway to shift the state’s energy supply to renewable sources, such as solar, wind, biomass, and waste-to-energy. The plan calls for an aggressive increase from current levels of approximately 10 percent renewable generation to having 40 percent of all of the state’s electricity come from clean, local, and renewable sources by 2030. A further 30 percent of energy needs will be met by increased energy efficiencies and conservation. Reaching these goals will reduce Hawaii’s reliance on imported oil, protect consumers from spikes in oil prices, keep more energy dollars in the local economy, and help preserve the state’s pristine environment.
While Maui’s location and climate are ideal for generating significant amounts of solar and wind power, these resources can be unpredictable – a passing cloud or shift in the wind can cause a sudden drop in the energy supply. A prolonged storm would cause even more serious challenges. To address these issues and to keep power flowing reliably, Maui will need a smarter and more flexible electric grid – and your help.