Hawaii’s law protects the small, select group of current renewable energy devices including wind, solar and bioenergy. As time passes, newer renewable technologies move from their development phase to their commercial stage. Unfortunately, our state’s statutory provisions don’t protect open, feasible economic paths for these new devices.
Wave energy, produced by Wave Energy Converters (WEC), top the list of devices needing updated statutory recognition and assistance. Our own Kaneohe Bay houses the Navy’s Wave Energy Testing Site, where cutting-edge experiments use ocean waves to generate electricity. Multiple prototypes that originate from around the world and that capture mechanical energy from waves are continuously tested and tweaked here.
As these advancements occur in our own backyard, Hawaii’s residents continue paying the highest electricity rates in the U.S. Therefore, we have the greatest incentive to produce and protect clean, renewable and constant power in the islands, starting with protecting the major advancements happening near our shorelines.
As these high-tech advances continue, there is a commercial gap between the single WEC, showing great promise, and the multiple units needed to achieve cost effectiveness. This is where the Public Utilities Commission and Hawaiian Electric need to structure a financial way for WEC companies to bridge from single unit to multiple devices. In doing so, Hawaii will reach its renewable energy goals quicker and with more certainty.