Monday, November 08, 2010


How much would you pay HECO to hide info from you?

By Henry Curtis

The utility has recently stated that islands and parts of islands can no longer handle additional renewable energy systems. They state that there needs to be a moratorium. These places include parts of the Big Island, Maui, Moloka`i and Lana`i.

Suppose you wanted to influence the Public Utilities Commission and encourage them to allow more renewable systems onto the grid.

Public ---> Public Utilities Commission

HECO and the Consumer Advocate (your representative from DCCA in all Public Utilities Commission  regulatory processes) proposed the following framework:

Public ---> Window Dressing Committee ---> Utility Black Box Committee
--> Public Utilities Commission

The Utility Black Box Committee, consisting of HECO and their allies, would analyze all reliability and grid information in private, and then send the results to the Public Utilities Commission  and to the Window Dressing Committee.

The Window Dressing Committee would be a debating society of regulatory insiders. This entity could ask questions of the Black Box Committee with four important caveats (1) its members would be chosen by HECO or the Public Utilities Commission; (2) to keep the size of the group manageable, the number of members would be restricted; (3) its leader would not be chosen by the members; and (4) the group could not ask details about the black box (the rigged computer program that agrees with whatever the utility wants).

Obvious, many intervenors objected to this approach.

The Public Utilities Commission amended the process.

Public ---> Window Dressing Committee ---> Utility Black Box Committee --->
Second Gate Committee --->  Public Utilities Commission

The Second Gate Committee (“Second Gate Behind the Utility Gate Committee”) would be a secret entity consisting of Public Utilities Commission contractors which would interface privately with the utility Black Box Committee. In this way the regulators and the regulated could indirectly meet, talk, and make agreement outside of the normally semi-public regulatory process. The Public Utilities Commission  also determined that they would choose the members of the Window Dressing Committee and appoint its leader.

Thus ratepayers would pay for the utility and the Public Utilities Commission to rig the process.

Governor Elect Abercrombie has proposed stripping all non-ratemaking energy policy from the Public Utilities Commission  and turning it over to a newly created Hawai`i Energy Authority.

Henry Curtis
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