Hawaiian Electric marks 50th anniversary of Earth Day with release of 2019-2020 Sustainability Report
News Release from HECO, 4/20/2020
HONOLULU, April 20, 2020 – As the 50th state marks Earth Day 2020, Hawaiian Electric is sharing its 13th annual Sustainability Report, Building a Stronger Hawaii TOGETHER. The 2019-2020 edition, with previous editions, is now online at hawaiianelectric.com/sustainability.
While the company is focused on safely serving customers and providing its essential service during the coronavirus pandemic, Hawaiian Electric employees continue planning the renewable energy transformation that will address climate change and reduce the state’s carbon footprint.
Scott Seu, Hawaiian Electric president and CEO, noted in the report’s introduction: “As the report was being completed, we were seeing the first effects of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s likely this will change the timelines for completion of many renewable energy projects being planned. Even with this new challenge, we remain fully committed to decarbonizing our energy system because it’s the right thing to do for our children and their children.”
This year marks the 50th Earth Day, begun in 1970 to increase awareness of threats to our planet and to encourage understanding about pollution, endangered species, and many other environmental issues, now including global climate change.
Since before there was an official “earth day,” Hawaiian Electric and its customers have been actively pursuing a better environment for Hawaii and the world.
From promoting the first electric vehicles more than 100 years ago, to early run-of-river hydroelectricity on Maui and Hawaii Island, to hosting experiments with some of the first modern wind turbines, Hawaiian Electric has been in the vanguard across its five-island service territory. From the groundbreaking Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative a decade ago to continued support for development of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion and seawater air-conditioning, to today, when we lead the nation in rooftop and grid-scale solar power for electricity, Hawaiian Electric is committed to building a clean energy future.
While this year’s Sustainability Report cannot capture everything the company and its employees do, it highlights the focus on renewables, resilience, community partnerships and innovation. Among those highlights:
Renewables – The company is on track to achieve the mandated target of 30 percent of customer electricity sales from renewable resources by the end of 2020, including nearly 82,000 customer rooftop systems, up 3,470 from 2019. The company is also seeking more than 1,000 megawatts of new renewable energy, energy storage and grid support technologies.
Innovation – Hawaiian Electric was recognized as Utility of the Year in 2019 by the independent Utility Dive industry newsletter for innovation in adding new renewables to its grids and for other advances, including integrated grid planning and grid modernization.
Electrification of Transportation – Electric vehicles in Hawaii topped 11,000 in 2019, a growth of more than 13 percent over 2018, as Hawaiian Electric continued to promote and facilitate installation of fast chargers, as well as distributing more than 300 free chargers for homes and small businesses. In addition, the company is helping the transportation industry move to electric buses for public, visitor and school-bus fleets.
Resilience – The company prepares year-round for storms, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, wildfires and other disasters to minimize impacts and ensure the quickest possible safe recovery. Hawaiian Electric spent more than $220 million in 2019 to harden infrastructure, including substations, transformers, poles and wires.
Volunteerism – Nearly 4,700 company employees and their families contributed more than 12,000 volunteer hours to service projects that are the essence of what Earth Day is about, including protecting Kanewai Spring, revitalizing Ulupo Nui and supporting Hoa Aina o Makaha. For details on these and other projects, see the Sustainability Report.