How Much Should Hawaii Discount Electric Rates For High-Tech Farmers? 0 A 2019 law aspired to help farmers grow large amounts of food indoors or in greenhouses by providing savings on electricity. But critics say the current proposal falls short.

A law mandating discounts for electricity was intended to help a niche and energy dependent sector in the agricultural industry pay its bills. But the rates Hawaiian Electric came up with to meet the new legal requirement are so minor that some farmers say they won’t bother even applying if the state Public Utilities Commission approves them.

The energy company says it was trying to minimize the discount’s impact on the rest of its rate payers as it tried to fulfill Act 203, the 2019 law to help so-called protected agriculture increase local food production by lowering the costs for farming operations that use techniques often seen as highly productive.

The company’s proposed discounts range from 1.2 cents per kilowatt-hour on Big Island to 49 cents per kWh on Molokai, savings which could amount to a few hundred dollars annually for some operations. Agricultural advocates say that is not enough to create meaningful savings for farmers or attract outside investment into Hawaii’s food system.

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