The Asia Pacific Resilience Summit kicked off this morning, an event that showcases clean tech solutions for island grids, communities, and military applications across the Pacific. The opening keynote speaker, Governor David Ige, wasted no time in making major headlines, stating, for the first time publicly, a strong opposition to proposed LNG projects.
Ige led off the session describing the state’s position as a leader in clean tech. He said that the state is moving firmly in the direction of its Renewable Portfolio Standard mandate of 100% by 2045, the most aggressive RPS in the nation. Ige expressed general support of moving the state toward a clean tech future, but most interestingly, he addressed the import of LNG head on.
For a little backstory, Hawaii has been considering importing LNG as a “bridge” or “transitional” fuel to help us reduce our dependence on imported oil (right now, 75% or more of Hawaii’s electricity is produced by diesel generators). Ige pointed out that when the talk of LNG first started, proponents pointed out many potential benefits (reduced costs of fuel and less emissions than diesel, American made fuels, low cost of infrastructure retrofits, etc.).
Ige said that many of these assumptions, whether they were accurate at the beginning of the debate or not, are no longer accurate. He said that his administration has considered the costs of retrofitting or building new generating capacity based on LNG, and found that they didn’t make economic sense for Hawaii. He pointed out that there are many questions and considerations yet to be answered about the import of LNG including the harbor infrastructure and shipping needs. He specifically stated that he had no desire to put any of Hawaii’s communities through the protracted battles around LNG’s development, when realistically, there are simply better alternatives. He pointed out that while LNG may have some emission benefits, “It’s still a fossil fuel”. And, perhaps most pointedly, he pointed out that it will not help us to get to a 100% renewable future, and that every dollar spent on LNG infrastructure is a missed opportunity to spend that dollar developing Hawaii-based renewable energy, where all the money stays in Hawaii’s economy.
“It’s time to focus all our efforts on renewables”
-Hawaii Governor David Ige.
Ige made clear that his administration will not approve LNG infrastructure. Ige said that Hawaii Gas, the utility in Hawaii that handles natural gas and has been pushing for the import of LNG as part of Hawaii’s energy mix, will still have access to gas, but it will not be from imported LNG while he is in office. While he didn’t specify, I believe he was referring to natural gas harvest from wastewater treatment plants and landfills, a virtually untapped resource in Hawaii.