While scribbling notes, we wondered how we’d choose which of the panelists would lead today’s blog entry. Excellent contributions were made by each of the first three speakers – Warren Bollmeier, president of the Hawaii Renewable Energy Alliance; Bill Parks, on loan to the State of Hawaii from the U.S. Department of Energy, and Erik Kvam, CEO of Zero Emissions Leasing, LLC, a renewable energy entrepreneur. But then came Robbie Alm, executive vice president of Hawaiian Electric Company, and the choice was easy.
This blog began on March 14, 2008 to call attention to the most-overlooked renewable energy in our state, ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), and we made that point again as recently as one week ago. So to hear Alm make an unambiguous endorsement for ocean power in his remarks today was enough to give us – as we say in the islands – chicken skin.
We won’t put quote marks around Alm’s comments because we didn’t catch every single word, but near the end of his talk, he said something pretty close to this:
For a moment, we could imagine what Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) might have felt when President Bush endorsed a massive commitment to ethanol a couple State of the Union speeches ago.
OK, so maybe we shouldn’t expect an announcement about HECO signing a contract with an OTEC developer next week, but that was the most ringing endorsement of OTEC and other ocean-based power systems we’ve ever heard from a HECO spokesperson. And more power to them (pun intended).
Alm concluded his prepared remarks by telling the assembled would-be energy producers that he can’t promise them an easy field to play in over the next years. Patience will be required as everyone works through numerous as-yet unresolved issues. His ending:
Hawaii will lead the world in the switch off oil. Hawaii will be the place where it happens. We’re all committed to making that our reality.
Quote or not, those are encouraging words from Hawaii’s dominant utility for supporters of OTEC and other renewable energy options.
We’ll post additional comments by Alm and the other panelists in the days ahead. For now, Hawaii Energy Options will leave it at:
HECO, we like your spirit!