Monday, June 13, 2011

‘Big Wind’ Starting To Look Like a ‘Big Denial’

Honolulu Star-Advertiser graphic
The “denial” of which we write is the string of denials issued by the Public Utilities Commission to parties that want a seat at the table in the formal consideration of Big Wind, the 400-megawatt neighbor island wind power project. The Friends of Lanai and Life of the Land both have received rejections of their bids to intervene in PUC dockets on the project, and now the County of Maui is asking for more Big Wind transparency.

Another “denial” might be the apparent tendency to dismiss neighbor island residents’ concerns about the impact of adding 200 or more wind turbines to their rural landscape. Some in the community are crying NIMBY and implying that not-in-my-backyard concerns are illegitimate.

The Hawaii Venture Capital Association is hosting a panel discussion on June 23 titled “Big Projects – Why Are They Stuck?” The event’s online announcement says “the program will examine some of the Big Projects we’ve been waiting for and try to find out why they haven’t been completed and what should be done.” Big Wind and the Honolulu rail project are on the agenda.

The apparent willingness to embrace Big Wind also is a denial of sorts of the promise of base load technology to address Oahu’s future electricity needs. Some see more promise in geothermal than wind energy for that purpose, whereas we continue to believe ocean thermal energy conversion is the best long-term answer.

What seems certain at this time is that Big Wind will continue to provide its share of "Who-Shot-JR” moments in Hawaii’s long-running renewable energy soap opera.

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