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Can Hawaiʻi's Public Schools and Universities Reach Their Green Energy Goals by 2035?

Wind turbines at the Kahuku wind farm on Oahu's North Shore in 2011.
Yuriko Nakao
/
Reuters/Landov
Wind turbines at the Kahuku wind farm on Oahu's North Shore.

The state Department of Education and the University of Hawaiʻi expect to reach their net-zero energy goals by 2035.

In 2015 the state passed legislation requiring the two organizations to produce as much energy as they consume. As of 2020, the DOE was able to produce 18.5% of its energy through solar power.

Leeward Community College and UH Maui College have reached their net-zero energy goals, but only 5.9% of the entire UH system is powered by its own energy production. This is largely due to the bigger campuses needing constant air conditioning in their research buildings.

State Representative Justin Woodson is the Chair of the Committee on Education.

At an informational briefing earlier this week, Woodson stated, "I may stand corrected but I believe that the Department of Education and the University of Hawaiʻi System in aggregate consume the most energy in the state of Hawaiʻi, excluding maybe the Department of Defense."

The DOE and the university system are planning several energy efficiency projects.

The DOE plans to replace their lights with LED and input energy-efficient air conditioning units. They also plan to closely monitor public schools' energy consumption.

UH plans to construct more solar panel roofs on top of its buildings and parking structures.

Zoe Dym is a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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