Monday, July 27, 2009

‘Energy Futures’ Show Highlights Hawaiian Views; Tuesday, a Nobel Prize Winner Takes the Spotlight

This can be short; we’ll simply refer readers to our sister "publication" over at Energy Futures on HPR for a condensed version of our “live” show on Native Hawaiian Perspectives on Renewable Energy today on Hawaii Public Radio (archived here).

This is Conservation Week in Hawaii and it’s only right that the Hawaii Conservation Conference is being held this week, too. The Tuesday highlight is a morning presentation by Dr. Stephen Schneider (below), the distinguished climate change scientist and winner (along with four generations of fellow authors on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. (Co-winner former Vice President Al Gore got most of the publicity.)

We were delighted to have him as our guest Tuesday evening for a recorded session of the Energy Futures show on Hawaii Public Radio. The interview will be broadcast on August 17 on KIPO-FM (89.3 in Hawaii) and streamed on the Internet.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Examining Some Native Hawaiians’ Energy Views

With the weekend at hand, it’s time to look ahead to one of the more intriguing energy-related issues Hawaii will face in the years ahead: To what extent are representatives of the host Native Hawaiian culture supportive or opposed to renewable energy development?

The seriousness of this issue dare not be overlooked. Perhaps more than ever since the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown in 1893, Native Hawaiians are demanding and receiving respect for their views and aspirations.

A self-determination movement is gaining strength, and spokespersons from within the Native Hawaiian community are asserting positions on land management issues that the rest of the population is well advised to note.

The Next Energy Futures Show

Dr. Davianna McGregor, professor and founder member of the University of Hawaii Ethnic Studies Department, will be a guest on Hawaii Public Radio’s Energy Futures program on Monday. As recorded in an earlier post here at Energy Options, Dr. McGregor and some of her associates who observe Native Hawaiian religion and cultural practices are not enthusiastic about the renewable energy potential of the islands.

Joining her with be Ramsay Taum, director of External Relations and Community Partnerships within UH’s School of Travel Industry Management. We’ll examine their presumably disparate views on Hawaii’s energy issues and options and invite you to listen no matter where you reside. The show is streamed on the Internet at 5 pm HST (11 pm EDT) and heard locally on KIPO-FM (89.3).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Veto and No Override, a Molokai Puzzler, and an Energy Festival..…Playing Catch-Up with the News

We’re scrambling to mention, if briefly, the major events of the past week that seemed to pile up while we focused on other issues, including tomorrow’s Energy Futures show on Hawaii Public Radio.

The Governor’s veto of a $1/barrel tax increase on imported oil to fund renewable energy and food security initiatives and the Legislature’s failure to override will have repercussions. Supporters of the measure already are blasting both decisions and presumably are more determined than ever to see a tax succeed next year, election year be damned.

The lobbying effort that swayed legislators to vote against the veto override was led by the local airline industry, according to media reports. We failed to find any coverage of what the impact on the airlines might have been under the tax, so we asked Jeff Mikulina of the Blue Planet Foundation:

“About 25 cents per ticket. The airlines claim this will add $2,752,000 to their fuel costs inter-island (total of $2.9 million with existing 5-cent tax). Based on 2007 numbers, where 9,188,139 passengers flew inter-island, this would be $0.2995 per person. But some of the inter-island fuel cost goes to cargo, so I figure the impact on passengers would be slightly less, say 25 cents…. I still can't believe we lost this.”

Harmful to Poor?

The Governor’s veto message said the tax would hurt Hawaii’s poor by raising gasoline prices 2 or 3 cents a gallon. Mikulina commented on that reasoning yesterday at the Hawaii Clean Energy Festival, noting that residents are hurt much more by rising oil prices.

That much is irrefutable. The price of oil reached $147/barrel a year ago this month, and every Hawaii resident paid dearly -- at the pump, at the grocery store, in their electric bills, everywhere. The proposed tax increase would have slapped a big fat target where it belongs – imported oil. Yes, we’re still dependent on it, but that has to change, and two bits per passenger per flight hardly seems like reason enough to lead the effort to kill this measure.

The Molokai Puzzler

We’ll give passing mention to the alleged intention of a New Mexico company to build a hydrogen-powered generation plant on the Friendly Isle. Nearly everything about the company’s announcement was puzzling, including the media’s lack of curiosity about it.

The company said it can’t disclose the location of its planned hydrogen production plant because negotiations for the site are still under way, according to a company official. He also said Jetstream Wind Inc. hopes to break ground in 30 to 60 days. You have to wonder where in that time frame they plan to fit in an environmental impact statement and review process.

Continuing, the Honolulu Advertiser story (reprinted by The Maui News) reported that the plant would generate electricity to power 6,000 homes and businesses. Molokai’s population is somewhere between 6,000 and 8,000, so on the face of it, the company proposes to service all homes and businesses on the island and presumably replace Maui Electric as the island's power provider.

But according to the Advertiser story, Maui Electric’s parent company, Hawaiian Electric, has not been contacted by the company. That’s the most glaring point of all.

This whole endeavor reminds us of the proposal floated earlier this year to build a wind farm in the middle of the humpback whale sanctuary in the Penguin Bank region of open ocean southwest of Molokai. That company also had not yet contacted Hawaiian Electric about its plan, an obvious red flag that prompted us to ask at the time whether every proposed renewable energy project deserves community support.

Putting press releases ahead of due diligence is a sure way to not gain support for projects in the islands. You’d think mainland developers would have learned that by now.

Monday, July 13, 2009

New UC Study Endorses Battery-Switch E-Cars

“It took over sixty years and six generations of gasoline engines for the Chevy Corvette to accelerate from zero to sixty miles per hour in under four seconds. The first version of the Tesla Roadster, which is the world’s first Lithium-ion battery powered car, achieved that feat immediately.”

Those are the first sentences in the Introduction to a new study just released by the University of California at Berkeley”s Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology: Electric Vehicles in the United States, a New Model with Forecasts to 2030.
July 14th Update: Want to know what's on their minds at Hawaiian Electric Company, which supplies electricity to 95 percent of the state's population? The "Energy Futures" website has a link to Hawaii Public Radio's audio archive of Monday's discussion with guest Robbie Alm, HECO executive vice president.
Among its predictions, the study anticipates massive penetration of the light-vehicle market by electric cars in the next two decades with a big if – IF the cars use switchable batteries and charging networks financed by pay-per-mile contracts. It says removing the cost of the batteries from the sale price of electric vehicles will eliminate a major price component, resulting in impressive market penetration. E.G.:

“In the baseline forecast electric cars account for 64% of U.S. light-vehicle sales by 2030 and comprise 24% of the U.S. light-vehicle fleet. The rates of adoption are driven by the low purchase price and operating costs of electric cars with switchable batteries. The estimates include the cost of installing charging and battery switching infrastructure to extend the range of electric vehicles.”

The study definitely is worth a read – especially in Hawaii, arguably the best test market for the new electric vehicle networks, such as proposed by Better Place. Plug me in!

‘Energy Futures’ Show

Read what dominated today’s program on Hawaii Public Radio here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Getting Picky about Energy in Hurricane Season

Hurricanes are marvelous energy machines -- nature’s way of expelling excess amounts of it from the tropics. According to some calculations, an average hurricane produces the “equivalent to 200 times the worldwide electrical generating capacity….” We're all for renewable energy, but that’s bull-in-a-china-shop energy, not what we need.

The Eastern Pacific is now officially experiencing increased ocean temperatures – what they call an El Niño, which historically means we can expect more tropical storms in the Central Pacific. Our friend Jan TenBruggencate reminds us in his Raising Islands blog today that a hurricane could arrive in the islands within a week or 10 days.

So we’re chiming in, too, with this cautionary note for island residents to start taking precautions. Hawaii has been remarkably free of tropical storms in recent years, unlike the Gulf and Atlantic states, but our two most recent hurricane strikes – Iwa in 1982 and Iniki in 1992 – both were during El Niño conditions. We are forewarned.

Monday Update

Carlos has weakened and is expected to remain a tropical storm for the remainder of its life. We'll have a lively discussion on KIPO this afternoon (5 pm HST, 11 pm EDT) about Hawaiian Electric Company's evolving role in delivering cleaner energy to its customers.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Linking Cap-and-Trade to Proper Grammar – an Innovative Approach to Revolutioninzing Society

We love online news stories that give us an excuse to do multiple referrals to our other blogs. Here’s one on CNBC today that discusses strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Hawaii.

The first referral goes to our new blog Energy Futures on HPR for the weekly “live” program on Hawaii Public Radio that focuses on energy issues here. The CNBC article mentions cap-and-trade proposals, a topic that surely will be mentioned in next Monday’s show with guest Robbie Alm, executive vice president of Hawaiian Electric Company.

The article also gives us excellent cause to link to our Killing English blog, which addresses the increasingly widespread use of poor grammar in American life. If you’re so inclined, read the article and see if you can find the one big egregious grammar mistake, and then click on our link to Killing English.

Mixing energy and grammar – going all out to promote best practices in both fields.

Afternoon Update

Dr. Ted Johnson, Lockheed Martin’s principal advocate for ocean thermal energy conversion, has received the Ocean Energy Pioneer Award from the Ocean Energy Council. The award apparently was presented at Ocean Energy 2009 a few weeks ago in Rockport, Maine. We learned of it only today in a story printed in Johnson’s community newspaper.

Congratulations, Ted! (The photo was lifted from LM's new OTEC video.)