Though Hawaii usually only comes to mind when planning tropical vacations and honeymoons, a new green initiative recently rolled out by the 50th state may finally pull it out of the holiday hot spot pigeonhole.

The recently announced Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative is a comprehensive agreement between business and tourism leaders, state consumer advocates, and Hawaiian Electric companies. The initiative aims to guide Hawaii towards getting a whopping 70 percent of its energy from clean energy sources by 2030.

One major way that Hawaii plans to achieve this goal is to ban the construction of any new coal plants in the state. Being the greenie that you are, you probably know that coal plants are major greenhouse gas polluters, so banning these heavy carbon emitters is a huge step forward in clearing the air, so to speak.

But that’s not all. Check out some of Hawaii’s other consumer- and business-driven green initiatives.

From the state government’s press release:

  • Integrating up to 1100 megawatts (MW) of additional renewable energy on the Hawaiian Electric companies’ grids.
  • Constructing an undersea cable connecting Maui, Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i into one electrical grid so that an additional 400 MW of renewable wind power generated in Maui County for transmission to O‘ahu can be integrated.
  • Requiring that 40 percent of electric power come from renewable resources by 2030.
  • Converting existing fossil fuel generators to use renewable biofuels.
  • Expanding the Pay-As-You-Save program where customers can install solar water heating systems without paying money up front, but can acquire energy-saving improvements through shared savings on their electric bills.
  • Committing to a program that will identify and implement incentives needed to encourage adoption of electric vehicles for individual and fleet use and acquire hybrid or electric-only vehicles for government and utility fleets.
The list goes on from there, but you get the idea.

With this proposal, Hawaii joins a number of states like California, Oregon, and Illinois (well, Chicago anyway) that are taking climate change into their own hands in response to a (so far) nonexistent federal climate change plan. With any luck, other states will step in line, practicing Hawaii’s tradition of “mālama ka 'āina”; that is, caring for the land.

This article originally appeared in "Plenty" in November 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008

Hawaii announces plans to go green
Beautiful state in the middle of the blue goes green.