Wednesday, April 29, 2009


An hour on Hawaii’s energy future on Town Square Thursday

by Larry Geller

Tune in tomorrow (Thursday) to Town Square (5-6 p.m., KIPO, 89.3 FM or streaming from for what promises to be a lively discussion on Hawaii’s energy issues.

Beth-Ann’s guest will be long-time activist Henry Curtis from Life of the Land. Henry, as readers may know, is involved with many of Hawaii’s energy issues, always on the side of the public interest.

I don’t know what they will talk about, but here’s what’s on my mind, so I’ll be listening to see if any of these come up.

1) It looks like the chances of producing ethanol in Hawaii have all but disappeared. Although today’s Advertiser article, Biotech seed company to plant crops on Kauai is somewhat hopeful:

Meanwhile, Pacific West Energy LLC of Vancouver, Wash., remains interested in potentially leasing and retrofitting the Gay & Robinson sugar plant into an ethanol production facility, Pacific West President William Maloney said yesterday.

Kaua'i Island Utility Co-operative announced in December that it would work with Pacific West on the ethanol project.

An article in The Garden Island today is less optimistic:

The new agreement was made after G&R’s planned ethanol and electricity production project with partner Pacific West Energy LLC experienced setbacks due to plummeting crude oil prices — an unforeseen event in the face of last year’s skyrocketing barrel costs.

“It was taking much longer than we hoped,” G&R President E. Alan Kennett said in a phone interview. “Because of the economic situation as it relates to ethanol and energy, I think it poses problems for Pacific West because the prices are depressed. They’ve got to come up with the money and find the equity that would be willing to invest in energy projects that they’re involved in.

So if we’re not making ethanol here in Hawaii, does it pay to import it from the continent to add to our gasoline? Why don’t we stop doing that?

2) Henry questioned what “no new fossil fuel” means in a bill moving through the legislature. Isn’t banning fossil fuel generation a good thing? He notes that there is a problem if we in Hawaii import palm oil from recently clear-cutted tropical rainforests.

So what is the right thing to do with that bill? Should it pass? Will it do more harm than good?

3) What’s with the administrations competing ideas that we will create a fleet of hydrogen-powered cars, but at the same time install 100,000 recharging stations for electric cars? Can both happen? Will either happen? Will anyone invest in hydrogen if they know the governor has settled on battery recharging?

4) What’s happening with the feed-in tariff hearings and why should we care?

5) What alternative energy options are realistic for Hawaii? How to get started on wave energy? Should we be installing undersea cables to Lanai to make Castle & Cooke rich, or should they make their own power and we make ours?

Tune in tomorrow. The above is just what’s on my mind, I don’t know if they’ll talk about any of it, but I’m hoping to learn something. We need answers before we’re Superferried again by unrealistic proposals.


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