That’s the criticism in Jay Fidell’s ThinkTech column in the Star-Advertiser today (subscription) that’s headlined “Shortsightedness must stop if clean energy is to flourish.” A different headline writer might have composed “All clean energy projects must be developed no matter what” to summarize the column’s thrust.
Just where does majority opinion lie in Hawaii on this fundamental issue about getting off oil – at all costs, or with reason? Here’s an excerpt from a letter in today’s Maui News submitted by Susan Osako of Lanai City, displayed under this headline: “OTEC and geothermal should be considered first”:
The writer and Mr. Fidell agree that Hawaii must get off oil; where they diverge is their reaction to the impacts the Big Wind energy project would impose on Lanai and Molokai – with scores of wind turbines 400 feet and taller on the islands. Where Mr. Fidell sees a lack of courage in a state more willing to say “no” to green energy projects, Ms. Osako sees it differently from her perspective on the ground:
“The outsiders have descended on Hawaii and are pushing industrial wind turbines, hoping to cover every mile of open land. Recreation, vistas, weather, culture and heritage are invaluable assets to a small island. If you take away all of these things, what good is electricity from any source?” Maybe Mr. Fidell will find himself in a forum where he’ll be asked to answer Ms. Osako’s question.
Assumptions like “OTEC is still decades away” and “geothermal is still a cultural issue….” Those beliefs themselves are out-dated; companies working on OTEC plan to build Hawaii's first plant by the middle of this decade, and native Hawaiians are among those backing geothermal energy’s expansion in Hawaii.
The sooner projects like Big Wind are recognized as unacceptable and/or unfeasible, the sooner the entire state can rally behind base-load projects like OTEC and geothermal and truly achieve Hawaii’s goal of energy independence.