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How Will Hawaii Reach Its Goal of 100 Percent Renewable Energy?

The state is on its way to weaning off an 80 percent reliance on nonrenewable energy sources.

In June, Hawaii became the first state to make a commitment to 100 percent renewable energy. Now the state has until 2045 to figure out how to make it happen.

According to a report from Fierce Energy, which indicates the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved four solar projects dating back to 2013 that total 137.2 MW of output, the state is on its way to weaning off an 80 percent reliance on nonrenewable energy sources. The four projects are power purchase agreements with EE Waianae Solar Project, Kawailoa Solar, Lanikuhana Solar and Waiawa PV.

"The projects selected were based on the commission's determination that the projects represent the best likelihood of providing long-term customer value and are reasonable and in the public interest," the PUC said in a statement.

Hawaiian Electric asked the PUC for permission to pursue those projects outside the PUC’s procurement framework to make the process faster and less restrictive, according to Fierce Energy.

In 2017, there will be a reduction to federal tax incentives now enjoyed by such solar projects. Uncertain of the future economic viability of the projects, PUC limited its exposure to risk by balancing the agreements across four vendors and prohibiting additional payments from ratepayers if the projects do not qualify for federal tax credits.

"We intend to move expeditiously to add more renewable energy, but not at the cost of certainty that we get for our customers the best (lowest-cost) projects available," Hawaiian Electric Companies spokesperson Peter Rosegg told FierceEnergy.

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