A guest blog from Chelsea Harder, Hawaii Energy

What state has the most expensive electricity rates in the nation? You might have guessed it, Hawaii.

Hawaii is very unique in that it draws 79% of its electricity from oil…yikes! Collectively, the U.S. generates 2% of its electricity from oil (See Figures 1 and 2 below).

Figure 1: U.S. Electricity Generation

Figure 2: Hawaii Electricity Generation

As a result of this sourcing, Hawaii has the most expensive electricity rates in the nation. But the upside is that Hawaii has every renewable energy resource at its disposal. The state recognizes that the dependency on oil an unsustainable practice and is working to grow the use of renewable resources and reduce its energy consumption and increase efficiency. In fact, the state is so committed that our former Governor and the Department of Energy signed a memorandum called the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative in 2009 to meet 70% of Hawaii’s energy demand through conservation and clean energy sources by 2030 – 40% from renewable energy and 30% from energy efficiency. This will take time and a great amount of effort to make this systemic change. As part of this effort, Hawaii Energy is partnering with NEED to reach our future – our younger generations. This offering will educate teachers and provide them with curriculum and course materials to teach Energy literacy to their students!

Given that our mission is to educate on energy efficiency and conservation practices not only to adults but to our younger generations who will soon be leading this effort, NEED visits the Hawaiian Islands multiple times per year to aid teachers in this effort to reach their students. Within the months of November and February, The NEED Project held 5 workshops on the island of Oahu and educated 137 local teachers from the islands of Hawaii, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, and Oahu…and they’re still counting! The NEED Project will return to Hawaii for two more workshops in April 2013 on Hawaii Island and Oahu.

The workshops are informative, interactive, and provide tools to expand your curriculum with Energy Education – not to mention fun! The session is attended by Hawaii Energy representatives to educate teachers on the importance of energy efficiency and conservation as well as the current use of energy in the state and the positive changes we can make to better the current practices. Throughout the day, teachers are prompted to think critically and are given a plethora of information regarding energy use and processes across the country as well as state-specific information. Educators form small groups to learn about the different types of energy, its use, and how to be more energy efficient. In addition, there is a session for all participants run experiments with the energy kits that will be provided to them for their classroom activities with guidance from the NEED workshop facilitator and the opportunity to ask questions…all in one day!

The value in the partnerships of The NEED Project and Hawaii Energy is shown through the efforts and teachings of the educators to their students and the students’ interpretation of the energy application. Hawaii Energy and NEED are pleased to continue these efforts by also offering grants for Hawaii teachers and schools interested in promoting and teaching conservation and efficiency in their classroom or community. Applications are due April 15, apply today!   Creating awareness in energy efficiency and conservation at a young age has a great potential to positively impact our use of energy and to help Hawaii reach the goal of 70% clean energy by 2030 and to greatly reduce the state’s dependency on oil. The intention is to make Hawaii a leader in smart energy use to create a platform for positive and systemic change!  For more information about Hawaii Energy and NEED, visit http://hawaiienergy.need.org/.