When the state’s dirtiest source of electricity burned its final pieces of fuel, the final bits of ash and greenhouse gases from Hawaii’s only remaining coal-fired power plant slipped into the environment last week.
The last shipment of coal arrived in the islands at the end of July, and the AES Corporation coal plant closed on Thursday (1 September) after 30 years of operation.
The plant generated up to a fifth of the electricity on Oahu, the state’s most populous island with a population of nearly 1.5 million people.
In an interview with the Associate Press, Hawaii governor, David Ige said:
“It really is about reducing greenhouse gases, and this coal facility is one of the largest emitters.
Taking it offline means that we’ll stop the 1.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases that were emitted annually.”
Hawai’i’s Legislature passed legislation in 2020 prohibiting the use of coal for energy production beginning in 2023.
Hawai’i was the first US state to set a goal of transitioning to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2045.
As other states follow, it gives us hope that the US will move down the table of most polluting countries, where it sits second after China.
As more and more countries ditch fossil fuels and switch to renewables, the cost and efficiency of the technology will improve and it will become accessible to all.