Friday, April 10, 2009


Hot hearing at the country club on our alternative energy future

by Larry Geller

We’ll need a favorable feed-in tariff if we want to be able to buy cheap energy generated by solar, wind, or other sources and break our dependence on expensive oil. I’ll translate: the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission will have to make it possible for providers other than Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) to sell their electricity to us at a profit, yet cheaply enough so that we’ll want to buy it. If you put enough solar panels on your rooftops, you might want to be a provider to your neighbors. It all has to work so that they can buy the power that you generate.

The “feed-in” part refers to others feeding in power to the grid. Not so complicated. Except it really is complicated, and the devil has provided lots of details.

Public utilities commissions in any state oversee a world of regulation that is mysterious and often inaccessible to the average person.  We’re used to laws, rules and regulations, but they live by “tariffs” and “dockets.” Hawaii’s PUC is no exception.

The utilities and those who specialize in the energy field do understand these things, though. Tariffs are their lifeblood. Get a good tariff and your business can survive. If it favors the other guy, you could starve.

Hawaii’s escape from dependence on fossil fuel generators depends on a decent feed-in tariff.

Next week, April 13-17, Hawaii’s PUC will hold hearings at the Honolulu Country Club, of all places. I’m concerned that the location is a bad omen. If you want to buy lunch between sessions, I think you’ve practically got to own your own oil well. Or be as big as HECO.

Today Zero Emissions, one of the parties to the hearing (another arcane feature is that not everyone can submit testimony…), circulated a statement which succinctly expresses the importance of the hearing to us HECO customers who hope for alternative energy options within our lifetimes. I can’t say it better than this:

At issue is whether the PUC is going to create a feed-in tariff that encourages rapid development of large renewable electricity projects, like wind farms and large solar arrays, to mitigate the catastrophic risks to the public of Hawaii’s dependence on imported oil for electricity generation.  The feed-in tariff proposed by Zero Emissions and other parties is modeled after feed-in tariffs in Europe that are proven successful in encouraging rapid development of large renewable generation at almost no added cost to ratepayers.

The HECO utilities, on the other hand, have put forward a feed-in tariff with wholly unjustifiable speed and size limits that appear designed to discourage such development.  In deciding whether and what kind of feed-in tariff to create, the PUC will be deciding whether or not the HECO utilities will continue to be allowed to limit the speed and size of renewable electricity development in Hawaii, and the extent to which the Hawaiian public will continue to be exposed to the catastrophic risks of Hawaii’s oil dependence.

There it is, from a person who knows, Erik Kvam, President of Zero Emissions.

Henry Curtis, ED of Life of the Land, is also a party to the hearing, so perhaps we’ll find out more as it progresses. Check out Henry’s website for common sense on many energy issues. For example, were you wondering if bringing wind power to Oahu from Lanai via an expensive undersea cable makes sense? Henry’s website points out that Oahu can be self-sufficient in alternative energy.

On Friday afternoon, April 17 beginning at about 2:30 p.m., each of the parties at the hearing will summarize their testimony, so if you are interested, that might be a good time to stop by.


Well. Consider that the BOR Presidential Search committee has been sending out almost daily agenda notices that they are meeting almost every day on the top floor of the Bank of Hawai'i building downtown. This kind of setting for important government deliberations feels a lot more honest, in some strange way!

I live in a Castle & Cooke community in California called Alberhill Ranch and believe me from what I gather, this company does not seem to care about people and the environment. They have built an aggregate company across the street from our homes and the stuff coming from the aggregate can caused cancer. What kind of people would do this to people who bought homes in their community Alberhill Ranch in Lake Elsinore, CA.

Post a Comment

Requiring those Captcha codes at least temporarily, in the hopes that it quells the flood of comment spam I've been receiving.

<< Home


page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Newer›  ‹Older