Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Governor Rationalizes Selection of 12-mpg Car; HECO Seeks Proposals for Renewable Energy

A nerve has been whacked in Governor Lingle’s office. Criticism of the decision to lease a 12-mpg luxury sport SUV as her vehicle has produced a column under her name in today’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin: “State can’t afford to choose symbolism over savings

Where to begin, and why don’t they get it? The Star-Bulletin’s editorial on this issue revealed that hybrid cars weren’t even in the bid documents. How could they have missed the opportunity to lease a eco-friendly vehicle in times like this?

Symbolism is important. The flag’s a symbol, the Arizona Memorial is a symbol and hybrid vehicles are symbolic of a determination to reduce both gas usage and air pollution. The Governor’s office has lost an opportunity to use the power of symbolism and set an example others could emulate for a lousy $6,000 in annual savings.

And while we’re at it, couldn’t they have found a car to lease for less than $900 a month? This issue doesn’t have to die and won’t if someone uncovers which fuel-efficient vehicles could be leased for $900 or less – hybrid or not.

HECO’s Renewable RFP

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission has approved Hawaiian Electric Company’s Request for Proposals for approximately 100 MW of renewable energy. The PUC’s letter of transmittal said the Commission believes “that it is important that this RFP proceed promptly to the bid submission and evaluation stage.” (Check out HECO’s website on the process.)

Taking it a step further, development of the renewable power also should happen as fast as possible. Oil prices edged up today to $137 per barrel, and nothing is happening internationally to suggest the price will fall.

Still unresolved is whether the cost of renewables will continue to be tied to the utility’s avoided cost – i.e., what HECO avoids spending on oil to generate electricity by purchasing green power. Legally, independent power producers can negotiate to be paid that avoided cost, which means renewable energy won’t necessarily be cheaper than fossil fuel-generated power.

That often comes as a shock to the newly informed. If the wind is free for the taking, wind energy should be relatively less expensive, they reason, but it doesn’t work that way. In addition to costs associated with development and maintenance, there’s that business about avoided cost to consider.

And symbolism, too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

HECO and Renewable Hawaii under the technical leadership of Karl Stahlkopf have no intention of encouraging renewable energy use. Follow the money. Who profits from the use of bunker oil to power most of Hawaii's electrical generation. What associations are there between the former and current board of directors and executives of HEI (the holding company)and these vested interest petroleum supply chains. Do you think vested interests protect their interests? You bet they do!!

Proposals presented to them by your truly that were without any cost to them and promoted large scale storage for renewable energy generators were dismissed out of hand. These people are not serious about change. They are only serious about protecting their sweetheart positions and careers.