Sunday, October 07, 2012


Some economic truths should be self evident

by Larry Geller

KHON posted an article, Waimea windmills create eyesore to some (KHON, 10/6/2012) that highlights objections to the large and obtrusive windfarm above Waimea Valley. (hat tip to Cheryl Corbiell)

First Wind, according to the article, stated that the wind farm will “ultimately produce nearly 10% of Oahu's electricity needs.”

Of course the wind turbines are eyesores. Unless a wind turbine is sited out of view, it is an eyesore. This will forever be a disadvantage of wind turbines as sources of alternative energy: people do not want to see them. Many people do not want to see them very much. For others, a wind turbine springing up nearby will have practical consequences as well: eyesores reduce property values. This is a truth that should be self-evident, but standby for the biggie.

There are issues that should be raised before any other alternative energy project is permitted to go forward in Hawaii.

This should be a fundamental truth: An alternative energy project must reduce the cost of electricity to Hawaii ratepayers before it is allowed to go forward.

I hold that truth to be self-evident.

Why? Because we already pay the highest electricity rates in the country, three times the national average. Other costs are also higher in Hawaii. While it is admirable to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and while we must remove carbon from the atmosphere, the profits of HECO or alternative energy companies are not our priority or responsibility. We have to look out for our own families and kids’ educational needs, for example, first.

Clearly, First Wind makes the first profit. Where’s our profit?

The KHON story properly emphasized that the windfarm is ugly. It didn’t say how much our electric bill will be reduced, if it will be reduced at all, or when. Perhaps that would be a consideration for some—that is, if, in exchange for some ugliness, they might save enough to pay a few expenses.

Standby—when (if) the undersea cable project should go forward, our electric bills are expected to increase—to protect HECO’s profit margin.

Not to mention that windfarms on Neighbor Islands would also be ugly.

We should not allow that to happen. If necessary, the fundamental truth above could be codified into law. It’s not a valid public purpose to further increase our costs to protect a private monopoly.

Reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere should be a responsibility of the oil-burning dinosaur utility monopoly to be allowed to continue operating in the state at all. And it doesn’t compute if our monthly bills don’t go down as well.


Good point, distributed generation through PV on houses and businesses makes sense, makes dollars.

The net cost is about 3 cents per kWH, compared to 36 for HECO

With the cost of the Big Cable, we could put PV on every house in the island chain. Simple math. Self evident.

They want the cable for another purpose, a devious one.

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