Hawaii likely to pass bill to expand agricultural hydropower

News sources are reporting that Hawaii Gov. David Ige is expected to sign a bill into law today that allows the development of hydroelectric facilities with a capacity up to 500 kW on agricultural land if these projects are combined with agricultural activities.

The bill, House Bill 1273, was sponsored by several lawmakers. Previously, legislation allowing various types of renewable energy projects to be built on agricultural lands did not include hydropower as a permissible use.

The new bill says hydropower is a permissible use on agricultural lands if the hydro facilities are accessory to agricultural activities for agricultural use only and “if certain other conditions are met.”

Development of hydro projects in Hawaii is “vital to the energy security and energy independence of the state,” the bill says.

The new law mandates that the location, construction and operation of renewable energy facilities must be considered in a way that promotes food and energy security.

The bill passed both the House and Senate and was transmitted to the governor in May 2015.

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