As Hawaii works to become 100 percent carbon neutral by 2045, Hawaii Gas is doing its part to reduce the effects of climate change on our state, and the planet, by producing clean and renewable energy, including solar.
Unfortunately, our current production of renewable energy, and our goal to produce more clean energy, is being minimized. Bill 25 (2019), currently moving through the Honolulu City Council, includes a section that would eliminate the choice for residents to use economical and efficient gas-powered water heaters, which can also run on Renewable Natural Gas.
In 2010, the State of Hawaii mandated solar water heaters for all new home construction, but also recognized that solar water heaters may not always be the best option. Lawmakers included reasonable exceptions for high costs and for places with less sunlight. This was not only sensible but also demonstrated responsible leadership in recognizing that there cannot be a “one-size fits all” approach to water-heating systems.
Bill 25 eliminates options and costs consumers more money. The current estimated cost difference between a gas and a solar water heater is at least $7,000. This cost is based on home installations that range from $1,000 to $2,500 for an on-demand gas water heater and between $8,000 and $10,000 for a solar water heater, excluding federal tax credits that are about to expire.
Renewable is not just about solar and wind. Renewable also includes gas energy, which can provide for the needs of tens of thousands of Hawaii families and businesses. Gas is the choice for many because it is affordable and reliable. Beyond that, it is 30 percent cleaner than oil and 50 percent cleaner than coal.
In July, on Kauai, we witnessed what happens when electricity and solar go down. When a provider’s largest generator failed, there was not enough sunlight to keep the power on, resulting in an island-wide blackout. Hawaii residents and businesses need dependable and diverse sources of clean energy to avoid disruption.
Gas energy has proven that it is a reliable resource we can count on, especially in emergency situations. As an island state, it is important that we have more than just one energy source to choose from.
There is a role for solar and wind. And, there is a role for gas energy, and an increasing role for renewable gas, in Hawaii’s energy future. The availability of those resources provides Hawaii families and businesses with energy affordability, choice and dependability for our economic well-being and quality of life.
You may have seen communications from Hawaii Gas outlining a challenge we are facing with Honolulu City Council Bill 25 introduced earlier this year. If passed, the bill would eliminate gas water heaters, even those powered by renewable natural gas (RNG), from new home construction, and from homes undergoing major renovation.
Our intention was to inform you of the potential impact of the bill on you, as consumers. Hawaii Gas will continue to provide our entire range of products and services, including utility gas and propane, to all islands. We remain committed to serving you, our valued customers, with the clean, affordable, reliable gas energy you require.
We received responses from many of you expressing your desire to keep natural gas a choice for your appliances. Mahalo nui loa for seeking more information, for your support to keep natural gas as an affordable and reliable part of Hawaii’s clean energy mix, and for your testimony.
We are striving to help the State of Hawaii reach its renewable energy goals and to lower our overall carbon footprint. We believe that renewable natural gas is an important part of that energy mix. Hawaii Gas remains committed to ensuring that families have a choice, and that gas energy will remain a clean and affordable option.
Hawaii Gas has served Hawaii since 1904, and we will continue to do so with your support. As we look toward the next century, we will remain innovative in our approach to provide a cleaner and lower cost alternative for residential, commercial and industrial customers.
Bill 25 is still moving through the council, and we are working hard to inform policymakers of the need for affordable energy choices. As mentioned, the measure targets Oʻahu residents; however, it is just a matter of time before similar policy proposals are introduced across the state.
We need your support. If you agree that Oahu residents should have gas, including renewable natural gas, as a choice for water heating, we ask that you contact your councilmembers directly, submit written testimony, or come to the city council meetings in person to oppose Bill 25. Get info here to contact your Councilmembers to urge them to oppose Bill 25.
If you would like to learn more, please sign up for email updates at GotGas@hawaiigas.com.