Sunday, February 12, 2012


Rep. Cynthia Thielen on electricity rates, Hawaii’s continued dependence on fossil fuels

by Larry Geller

Hawaii Representative Cynthia Thielen is a steadfast champion of renewable energy in Hawaii. Below are two videos (the second one is quite short) of her statements on the floor of the House in opposition to HB425, which would continue our dependence on fossil fuels by setting distant and relaxed goals for renewables. 

We need somehow to “occupy” the minds of legislators who risk escalation in the amount ratepayers will have to spend to keep the kitchen stove running. Plus, of course, the environmental damage that will be done if we continue to depend on oil and coal for energy.

ThielenIf you are concerned, track that bill, or contact Rep. Thielen’s office to find out how you can support her in her good fight. Her office phone is 586-6480 or email .


(Thanks to Michele Van Hessen of the Minority Caucus for pointing to the two videos.)


With all due respect, Rep Thielen is wrong because Hawaii’s renewable-centric energy policy is a world class disaster. First, should there be no Big Wind there is no way that HECO can meet its renewable energy portfolio standards. Second, geothermal is *not* the answer because 200MW is likely the most that can be imported to Oahu because an interisland cable will likely be a single point of failure and increasing HECO’s spinning reserves to say 400MW or 1,200 MW would not result in any fuel savings. Third, I bet the U.S. Department of Energy study focused on monster winter north shore swells but not on comparatively “manini” south shore swells when HECO will need power the most (i.e., kona weather when air conditioners are blasting). Fourth, when she uses the term “fossil fuel” she conflates coal with oil. Rep Thielen, how do you explain to your constituents that HECO pays coal-burning AES Hawaii *only* 3 cents/kWh but HECO is prohibited from building more coal plants because of provision 8 of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative? Put another way, current HECO’s electricity rate is 32 cents/kWh – resulting in a 10:1 economic gap between the 32 cents/kWh rate and 3 cents/kWh for coal. (Regarding energy security, America is the Saudi Arabia of coal with the world’s largest reserves, and regarding CO2 emissions, the best-and-brightest are now working on this problem whereby burning more coal may ironically lead to a *negative* carbon footprint to save the planet from global warming.) This 10:1 economic gap is *economic injustice* to struggling working families, fixed income retirees, and ratepayers-at-large. Shame on you for self-inflicting *avoidable* economic hardship on Hawaii all because you have this ideological dogmatic fantasy that renewable energy can lead to affordable energy for Hawaii. When Hawaii ratepayers learn that HECO pays AES Hawaii *only* 3 cents/kWh for coal, don’t be surprised if the villagers pick up their pitchforks and torches to hold you accountable for this world-class public policy disaster.

Since my U-tube link is not linking I am at a disadvantage here but I can't help but wonder if Anonymous is recommending that we build more coal fired plants to generate electricity because it's cheap? Should geothermal power be expanded for use on the Big Island? Probably but the cable sounds too expensive and who will pay for it? What if the monies being spent on a cable were used to buy PV panels for poor Ohau. How many homes would that provide power to? From reading I believe it does not take much of a wave to generate the power needed to generate electric energy. And finally, if one builds using passive methods you will not need air conditioning . I think there are so many proven alternatives out their to big wind, underwater cables and coal why not use them ?

The burning of coal and the pollution it causes is just one of the problems with coal. Sadly there is no such animal as clean coal. It's a clever slogan brought to you by the coal industry. The other major problem with coal are the mountain top removal methods used in West Virgina. The pollution and death caused by coal in W Virginia is well documented. While we can't get off our dependence on coal in the short run we must find alternatives as soon as possible. The future of our planet is at stake.

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