Friday, January 8, 2010

Energy Policy Forum Briefing Is Blunt About It.....: Hawaii MUST Get Off Oil!

Energy Policy Forum's legislative briefing packed them in.
It was practically standing room only today in the State Capitol Auditorium during the Hawaii Energy Policy Forum’s annual legislative briefing. Members of the choir packed the place, with speakers and the audience all singing off the same page. Even the legislators were tapping their feet.

Such is the case when everyone lives, breathes and sleeps oil dependency depression and renewable energy enthusiasm. Moderator Jay Fidell started the session off by saying the program’s title should be “the State of Energy in the State of Energy.” It’s true; we all really are in a state about the imperative to develop Hawaii’s abundant renewable resources.

State Energy Administrator Ted Peck launched the presentations with the sobering thought that “Hawaii has an economic tsunami coming.” “In Hawaii, we feel the pain (of oil price increases) at the pump, pain at the plug and pain at the pallet,” he said as audience members nodded in agreement.

6:30 PM UPDATE: Matson Navigation Co. will raise its fuel surcharges for service to Hawaii, Guam and Micronesia on Feb. 7. The company said it was boosting the surcharge because of "rapidly rising fuel related costs."

Several panelists described their work to reduce the pain as quickly as possible. Joel Matsunaga, chief operating officer of Hawaii BioEnergy, covered his young company’s efforts to grow biofuel alternatives to jet fuel, the mother’s milk of the state’s tourism industry. (Hawaii Public Radio’s Energy Futures program will focus on the effort to develop alternatives to jet fuel on Monday, January 11 from 5-6 pm HST on KIPO-FM; the show also is streamed on the Internet.)

Matsunaga noted that one acre of palm trees yields 600 gallons of palm oil in one year, whereas one acre of micro-algae production can produce 10,000 gallons in that period due to algae's 12-day turnaround.

Ameresco senior project developer David Moakley described how his company partners with clients to reduce their energy consumption by making capital investments to upgrade their equipment and share in the energy savings. “We’ll cut you a check for the shortfall” if Ameresco doesn’t meet a client’s conservation goals, he said.

Numerous other speakers described their operations without straying far from the briefing’s theme, which was summarized by Senator Mike Gabbard, chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee.

“We all must become energy evangelists,” he said while urging members of the public to develop a community-wide will to “kick our fossil fuel addiction.” If the public demonstrates that will, Gabbard reasoned, politicians will be sure to notice and follow (or, we suspect, maybe even elbow their way to the front of the pack).
Ted Peck's "Bottom Lines" slide summarizes Hawaii's energy circumstances today.

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