Friday, May 23, 2008

Oil Price Crisis Demands Action; Special Session of Legislature Could Focus on Renewable Energy

• May 24 Update: Gas average tops $4 across state. (Imagine how upsetting a trip to Zippy's can be.)

Yesterday we highlighted coverage by the Honolulu Advertiser. Today is the Star-Bulletin’s turn. Oil prices fuel tourism downturn is the headline on its top story of the day. The subhead? Things could get worse for Hawaii, the visitor industry says.

Talk about a bummer start to Aloha Friday. But it’s true, as we and others have been saying (see last week's "train wreck" post). The visitor industry seems to agree.

As Memorial Day weekend kicks off, let’s remember this: Hawaii can’t sustain oil prices this high. We are in a crisis of the first degree, and this crisis demands action.

Calling a Special Session

If she hasn’t already, Governor Lingle needs to sign the new solar water heater legislation passed by the Legislature this session. It mandates solar units on all new homes constructed in the state beginning January 2010 (with some outs for unique circumstances).

Second, she can call a special session of the Legislature to highlight and enact renewable energy initiatives. We won’t even enumerate them here; the industry has them waiting in the wings. But there’s no time for waiting any longer with oil above $130/barrel and rising.

Calling a special session would energize the GET OFF OIL movement in Hawaii. It would grab the public’s attention and show that our elected representatives feel our pain.

End the Shibai

The fill-up yesterday was with $4.10/gallon gas – and while they're at it, legislators could wipe away the “9/10ths” gimmick that makes gas prices look like they're less than they actually are. Call it the Accuracy in Gasoline Pricing Act.

And call what Hawaii is experiencing now what it really is, too – a crisis.


prh said...

The state government needs to move aggressively to mitigate the stress to local business and residents from escalating electrical rates and fuel surcharges. Plans that kick in in 2020 or 2030 are not realistic given the current situation. Specific to bioenergy production, the legislature needs to make some changes at NELHA ASAP. 1. Facilitate the construction of the 1 MW OTEC plant at NELHA. 2. Downzone all the lower elevation land at NELHA to Important Ag Land to encourage the development of algae to biofuel farms. 3. Allocate CIP funds for a low head pipeline from the OTEC plant to the northern NELHA boundary to supply future algae farms. 4. Set up a distributed energy grid at NELHA to supply algae and aquaculture farmers with fixed rate electrical power from OTEC, PV and wheeled geothermal power.

Doug Carlson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doug Carlson said...

The comment by "prh" seems based on insider insight about NELHA and therefore deserves some attention. I hope "prh" is working to bring about these changes.

JMesserly said...

Hawaii State Democratic convention passed the following resolution last weekend. It was sponsored by myself and Brian Schatz.

“Self paying Electric Vehicle Loans”
A Hawaii Democratic Convention Resolution

* Whereas sales of gasoline will drain $1.8 billion from the Hawaiian economy in the coming year at the rate of $4.00 per gallon;

* Whereas importing oil is now more expensive than paying for electric cars powered by alternative Hawaiian energy sources;

* Whereas moving to electrical cars powered by Hawaiian alternative energy would result in cheaper energy for car owners, and result in jobs for Hawaii;

* Whereas the barrier to moving to electric cars is the sticker shock due to the expense of the car battery;

* Whereas this price per unit of energy is sufficient to pay for Hawaian alternative electricity for plug in electric vehicles charged at a rate up to 34 cents per kilowatt hour and also pay for the price of the battery;

* Whereas consumers would be motivated to purchase an electric vehicle if there were a self paying loan that made the price close to that of a comparable vehicle;

* Whereas "self paying loan" means a loan offered by financial institutions with incentives from the State of Hawaii whose repayment is made by surcharges on the electricity used to recharge the electric vehicles;

* Whereas surcharge means that the consumer pays for electricity for the vehicle at a rate lower than what they would pay for gasoline, but higher than what they pay for normal household electricity.

* Whereas energy for electric vehicles shall be charged separately on the electrical bill surcharged at a this higher rate, and this extra money shall be used to pay back the loan and pay for the electricity at a rate sufficient to motivate Hawaiian alternative energy production.

* Whereas qualifying electric vehicles are plug in vehicles with sufficent battery capacity to run 20 miles of urban driving on a single overnight charge;

* Whereas qualifying electric vehicles have separate metering using inexpensive current technology such as wireless broadband communications such as EVDO chips used in cell phones;

* Whereas Hawaiian alternative electricity means electricity generated from energy sources that are not imported to the islands, such as wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, wave action, and biomass grown on the islands;

* Be it resolved that the Democratic Party of Hawaii supports policies that will ensure that a new kind of car loan is made available by 2010 to electric car customers which is repaid from the fuel savings from using Hawaiian alternative electricity and;

* Be it further resolved that copies of the Resolution be transmitted to the Democratic members of the State Legislature, the Governor, the commissioners of the Hawaii state Public utilities Commission, the Chairman of the DNC, the Platform Committee of the Democratic National Convention, and the Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu.