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Amid COP26, Hawaiian Electric pledges to reduce carbon emissions by 70% come 2030

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Hawaiian Electric
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As world leaders meet in Scotland to discuss and pledge their efforts to curb greenhouse emissions, Hawaiian Electric says it's making a commitment to cut its carbon emissions by 70% come 2030 — compared with 2005 levels.

The company also set a goal of achieving net-zero or net-negative carbon emissions from power generation by 2045.

HECO President Scott Seu shared how the multi-island utility provider plans to do that.

"The good news is that this is primarily based on the renewable energy plans and the transition that is already in motion here in Hawaiʻi. We've had a head start, since we signed the clean energy agreement back in 2008," Seu said.

Part of the plan includes the expected closure of the state's only coal plant in 2022 — the AES power plant in West Oʻahu.

"As far as the question of whether or not that plant should be converted to run on biomass or some other type of renewable fuel, that's going to be looked at heavily in the course of the next several months," Seu told Hawaiʻi Public Radio. "We have to make sure that it makes sense for the energy system, that it's affordable, and of course with respect to climate change, that you actually are seeing a net reduction in carbon by converting to biomass."

HECO said it also plans to add about 50,000 rooftop solar systems to its energy grid.

"The near term plans are: diversify our energy resources with cleaner, renewable energy, while at the same time, start the process of looking at how we can take our existing power plants and make them cleaner burning, cleaner fuels," he said.

Gov. David Ige, who is attending the U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, said, "Hawaiian Electric has a critical role in reducing carbon emissions this decade in Hawaiʻi, especially in transportation, so this new goal is significant... The COP26 meetings made absolutely clear that even though Hawaiʻi has done a lot, we have to do even more."

This interview aired on The Conversation on Nov. 5, 2021.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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