Is Wind Really Hawaii's Low Cost Option?

Hawaiian Electric

Wind energy is at the top of the list of energy sources that Hawaii should be tapping to meet its renewable energy goals, according to a recently released federal study.

Why? Because it's cheap, says the 240-page study done for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory by Booz Allen Hamilton.

The report appears to validate state officials and Hawaiian Electric Co.'s emphasis on developing wind energy, including the controversial Big Wind project, which has been touted as the centerpiece of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. The study says that without out it, the state won't meet its mandate of 70 percent clean energy by 2030.

But the study estimated market prices for wind energy at one-third of what Hawaiian Electric Co. has agreed to pay for the renewable energy source in recently negotiated contracts with wind companies. Meanwhile, solar companies in Hawaii say that the report over-inflates the cost of solar. And that has the solar advocates crying foul.

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