Hawaii Vetos Major Solar Power Project


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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Hawaii’s government shut down plans this week to build a large solar farm due to opposition from local residents and concerns about cost overruns surfaced.

Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission suspended the project’s application for a transmission line after local residents complained that the solar farm violated local zoning laws, lacked a competitive bidding process. and possessed permits “issued under false pretenses and are of no public benefit at this time.” The solar farm has been under construction for at least eight years.

Due to its unique location and weather, Hawaii gets a higher percentage of its electricity from solar power than any other U.S. state, getting 3.66 percent of its energy from solar. However, Hawaii’s government has not favored solar power much relative to other states, only passing 29 policies supporting it, far fewer than the national average of 51 policies. Out of the 50 US states, only Hawaii, California, Arizona and Florida got more than 1 percent of energy from solar power. Each one of these states has noticeably favorable weather environments for solar power

Solar power produced 0.6 percent of all energy used in America last year while wind produced 4.7 percent, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Meanwhile, coal power and natural gas produced 33 percent, and nuclear power produced 20 percent of all U.S. electricity the same year.

Solar get 326  times more in subsidies, respectively, than coal, oil and natural gas per amount of energy generated according to 2013 Department of Energy data collected by Forbes. Green energy in the U.S. got $13 billion in subsidies during 2013, compared to $3.4 billion in subsidies for conventional sources and $1.7 billion for nuclear energy according to data from the EIA.

Most solar subsidies go to residential installations and includes a 30 percent federal tax credit, while wind is usually industrial scale and is thus somewhat more efficient per dollar spent. Solar-leasing companies install rooftop systems, which cost a minimum of $10,000, at no upfront cost to the consumer. Companies do this because the state and federal subsidies  are so massive that such behavior is actually profitable. Solar companies simply cannot compete without government support.

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