Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Now might be the best time for Hawaii to purchase a power grid
by Larry Geller
I’ve written recently about the advantages of an independent power grid for Hawaii so that we can move toward oil independence by connecting various sources of alternative energy. The problem is that our grid is owned by the utilities that burn fossil fuels, in the old-fashioned model. Other parts of the country (for different reasons) have modernized the administration of their power distribution infrastructure.
Now might actually be the best time to buy ourselves a power grid. HEI stock (the holding company which includes HECO) has plummeted to record lows, and may now be affordable, particularly if stimulus money is available for that purpose:
Too bad federal money was not available earlier this month when a stake in HEI could have been had for very little. Its stock price is still in the doldrums though up a little from its recent low.
All the state would need is a controlling interest. With and independent power authority we could move forward towards an independent power grid and let private or private/public partnerships do their thing with alternative energy. We could upgrade the grid with interface devices that allow the connection of wind, wave, OTEC, geothermal, photovoltaic, or whatever the future may bring, and establish prices and protocols for interconnection.
This would be a real energy initiative.
Would buying a power grid upset any apple carts? Yes, it would break the influence of HECO over legislators. All the more reason to do it.
Great idea but how do we pay for it? The upgrades for interfacing new power sources is very expensive too.
I am a proponent of a municipality owned grid but we need to find a way to fund it. Yes, stimulus money would be a good start...
You are asking the correct questions, of course. I wanted to start the ball rolling by putting out the idea. Things move so slowly here that it is really just planting a seed, I don't expect any action for quite awhile (if at all, of course). I have no illusions that just because I suggest this, someone in our government will actually do it.
Now, if the state does not own the grid, it is also expensive for HECO to install interface devices. And since doing so would mean putting themselves out of the power generation business, that's probably not an investment they are looking forward to. Which is why I made my suggestion of an independent power grid to begin with.