Hawaii receives its final shipment of coal amid push to move to renewable sources
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Starting next month, Hawaii will no longer burn coal for electricity.
Oahu got its final shipment from Indonesia on Wednesday, in what experts say is a big milestone for the state’s efforts to move toward renewable energy.
It’s also the end of an era for Hawaii’s only power plant fueled by coal, AES Corp. in Campbell Industrial Park.
“Yesterday was the last shipment of coal that arrived on island. That’s about 15,000 tons of coal,” said Sandra Larsen, AES Corp. Hawaii market business leader.
“And we’re working very closely with Hawaiian Electric to make sure that we dispatch or burn that coal as efficiently as possible. So that it will go to the end of our agreement term.”
Back in the early 1990s, the company invested more than $380 million to build the power plant, which generates electricity for tens of thousands of homes on Oahu.
While coal may be cheaper than petroleum, it creates more pollution dust as well as carbon dioxide.
And that’s part of the reason the state wants to shut down the power plant after its 30-year contract with Hawaiian Electric Company ends at the end of August.
“There’s no use for coal for electricity anywhere in the world,” said Henry Curtis, of Life of the Land.
“The coal not only burns dirty, but it’s extracted from the ground in an extremely dirty way and has great human health and ecosystem impacts where it’s mined.”
It’s unclear what the company plans to do with the coal plant after it shuts down. It could convert to burning biofuels, but that could take years.
Instead, AES is focusing on renewable projects that it operates or is developing throughout the state.
The company says the solar, wind and battery storage projects will eventually generate enough energy to light more than 230,000 homes statewide.
AES says it plans to offer its 40 coal plant employees positions at its renewable energy projects.
Hawaii has set a goal to achieve 100% clean energy by 2045.
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