Hawaii Utility Balances Green Energy Goals with Delayed Fire Mitigation Projects
Hawaiian Electric, the main electric utility in Hawaii, is facing criticism for allegedly neglecting the modernization and repairs of its el...
Hawaiian Electric Accused of Neglecting Electrical Grid Modernization
Hawaiian Electric, the main electric utility in Hawaii, is facing criticism for allegedly neglecting the modernization and repairs of its electrical grid before a recent fire on the island of Maui. The company is accused of prioritizing the expansion of its green energy network over addressing the risk of wildfires. Financial disclosures and reports indicate that Hawaiian Electric was concerned about the state of its electrical grid and the potential for wildfires, but did not take sufficient action to mitigate these risks.
Deadly Fire Raises Questions about Hawaiian Electric's Priorities
The company is facing scrutiny for its past priorities as it is accused of being responsible for a deadly fire in Lahaina. The fire resulted in the loss of over 100 lives and the destruction of numerous buildings, making it the deadliest wildfire in modern American history. This incident has drawn comparisons to the Camp Fire in California in 2019, which destroyed the town of Paradise.
Hawaiian Electric to Conduct Investigation
Hawaiian Electric CEO, Shelee Kimura, announced during a press conference that the utility will be conducting its own investigation into recent events. The company will also cooperate with the state attorney general's investigation. Kimura emphasized the importance of understanding what happened and ensuring that similar incidents are prevented in the future.
Insufficient Efforts to Mitigate Fire Risk
According to a report by a utility company, it was determined that more efforts were needed to reduce the risk of fires in Maui after a particularly severe fire season in 2019. However, financial filings reviewed by the Wall Street Journal reveal that the utility only spent less than $245,000 on projects aimed at mitigating fire risk between 2019 and 2022. In contrast, the company claims to have spent $84 million on clearing hazards near power lines and maintenance since 2018.
Green Energy Prioritization in Hawaii
Hawaii has been prioritizing green energy over the past decade, with a goal to have its grid powered by 100% renewable energy by 2045. In 2015, the state enacted a law making it the first in the country to set this mandate. Regulators recently completed a comprehensive restructuring of the regulatory framework to facilitate this transition. They have incentivized Hawaiian Electric, the utility company, with large bonuses for completing green energy projects on schedule and have also warned of fines if deadlines are missed.
Transformation within Hawaiian Electric
The article discusses the transformation happening within Hawaiian Electric, a utility company in Hawaii. The focus of the transformation is on electricity generation, but there is also concern for wildfire risk. Mina Morita, the former chair of the state utilities commission, highlights the scope and scale of the changes taking place within the company.