Editor's note: The following summary represents state and utility stances after the Supreme Court stayed the Clean Power Plan in February 2016.
Hawaii, along with Alaska, Guam and Puerto Rico, doesn't have a carbon emissions goal to meet under the final Clean Power Plan.
U.S. EPA is temporarily refraining from setting mandates for the noncontiguous states and island territories because the agency didn't have enough information about their power systems -- which don't connect to the Lower 48 states' electric grid.
Hawaiian officials didn't ask to be exempt from the Clean Power Plan. The state has been highly supportive of the rule.
A staff member for Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) said EPA's decision "reflects how careful the review process has been: EPA carefully evaluated the situation facing Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico and Guam and concluded the EPA did not have adequate data, 'particularly data regarding [renewable energy] costs and performance characteristics.'"
Hirono's aide noted Hawaii is well-positioned to comply with the rule.
The state is currently focused on generating 40 percent clean energy by 2030 and 100 percent by 2045. If accomplished, the move would make Hawaii the nation's first state with all green power.
State Rep. Chris Lee (D), chairman of the Hawaii House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee, said the state is well on its way to exceeding the Obama administration's carbon dioxide cuts.
Lee, who authored the state law requiring Hawaii to produce 100 percent for its electricity from renewable power, said "there's virtually no way that we're not going to get there."
Customer demand for renewable energy in Hawaii is so strong, it's pushing the Aloha State faster than would any state or federally imposed mandate on utilities, Lee said. Overall in Hawaii, utilities currently make about 21 percent of their power from green sources. About 1 in 7 households has rooftop solar, Lee said. That's driven by the fact that the state imports fuel oil to generate its electricity, which makes power expensive. The average electricity bill runs $200 or more per month.
"We've essentially had a de facto carbon tax, an artificial carbon tax, created by the cost of shipping fossil fuel into the state," Lee said.
Last updated on February 6, 2016 at 6:19 PM