Monday, July 11, 2011

Memo to N.I. Residents: Oahu Power Rates Are High!

Graphic from Sunday's OTEC story in the Star-Advertiser
Here’s the deal, and we’ll see if Molokai and Lanai residents think it’s a good one: Welcome the Big Wind energy project onto your island and have your electric rates lowered to equal what Oahu residents pay.

What’s your reaction to that, neighbor islanders? Is that a good deal or just so much snake oil?

We Oahu residents already are paying the nation’s highest electricity rates by far -- with the exception of your rates, of course. It’s impossible to believe they won’t increase after a $3 billion energy project is installed that has to be paid for the only way possible – in our electricity bills!

Maybe your electricity rates will decrease from their current impossibly and laughably high levels, but that’s like being thankful for getting a splinter out of your thumb while your hand is still clamped in a vice.

The other piece of the deal, as outlined today in the Star-Advertiser by an executive of Pattern Energy, is the promise of 100-percent renewable energy dependence on Molokai and Lanai, thanks to Big Wind. Pattern’s David Parquet says it’ll happen because the computer models and studies say it’ll happen.

And if It Doesn’t?

Studies look at historical evidence and predict the future based on the past. Are we slam-dunk positive those trade winds will continue blowing for decades to come as the climate changes? That’s something to consider, because the last thing you want to see if you accept Big Wind onto your island is dozens of wind turbines, each more than 400 feet tall, sitting there doing nothing in breezes too weak to turn their blades.

No matter what is offered by Big Wind promoters, it has to be measured against cost and environmental impact, not only for our generation but for your children and their children. It has always seemed beyond sketchy to us to put all our treasure and hopes into one intermittent wind project, especially when it requires undersea cables to fulfill its promise.

Ask any supporter of ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) how far the technology would advance with an investment of $3 billion, and we’re pretty sure you’d hear “all the way to commercialization on a level with what Big Wind would produce.”

With $3 billion backing OTEC, we’d be tapping into the world’s greatest and inexhaustible solar energy collector – the tropical ocean that surrounds our state – and it wouldn’t be intermittent power, like wind. It would be base-load power – running 24 hours a day, every day, taken from an ocean that scientists predict will be even warmer with climate change. (For OTEC, warmer surface water is good.)

That amount spent on Big Wind would preempt OTEC’s rollout on a similar scale, wouldn’t it? Only so much money can be squeezed out of the ratepayer – or so it would seem.

But you be sure to think about it, neighbor island friends. Imagine...spending only what Oahu residents pay for electricity.... Could Paradise ever be as sweet?

1 comment:

Aloha Tony said...

It will be interesting to see if this power project goes through or not. Hawaii certainly does have high electric bills, but part of the appeal of Hawaii to begin with is its natural splendor, and there are concerns that some large power projects may have ecological consequences. Tidal seems promising, as does solar.