1. Community cooperative utilities
As a chain of volcanic islands, Hawai‘i doesn’t have coal and natural gas readily available to generate electricity. The state depends on oil, shipped in by tanker, to generate electricity. In 2002, Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) became the first and only member-owned utility company in the state, aiming to solve this energy problem.
At that time, Kaua‘i residents were 92 percent reliant on oil for their energy needs and had some of the highest electricity bills in the country. That reliance was a major problem—in some years, oil imports cost the island close to $100 million.
Renewable energy appealed to residents who wanted lower utility bills and were concerned about the environment. “People were tired of oil,” said Jim Kelly, the cooperative’s communications manager. “It was up to us to cut the cord and not be at the mercy of oil supply.”