At yesterday’s annual Asia Pacific Resilience Innovation Summits & Expo, which the Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit is a joint proceeding, Governor David Ige dropped
a nuclear bomb in the first 15 minutes of the Summit by announcing his no LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) edict. Now with numerous planning efforts in limbo because of this announcement, public and private stakeholders that have invested significant time and resources to help Hawaii reach its aggressive clean energy goals are owed an explanation and transparency on how he came upon this conclusion.
This dictatorial pronouncement, I don’t know of any other way to describe it, defied the painstakingly and analytical efforts by numerous parties seeking solutions to accelerate clean energy transformation affordably by maximizing cost-effective renewable resources with more flexible and efficient fossil generation through this transition. The announcement was certainly contradictory to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission inclinations (see page 6-10) which, ironically, was cited numerous times in the merger docket by State agencies and other parties for its thoroughness and thoughtfulness in laying out a pathway for Hawaii’s energy vision.
Did the Governor and his advisors ever consider what this pronouncement will do to the business climate at a time when the entire energy (including all fuels) infrastructure will require significant investments to upgrade aging facilities and to meet environmental compliance?
The Governor’s pronouncement, which appears to have no basis in technology or economic analysis, just damaged Hawaii’s credibility in energy and financial markets. The big question now is how big and deep is the damage?
How naïve is the statement “any time and money spent on LNG is time and money not spent on renewable energy.” Hawaii’s energy transformation requires a portfolio of resources and many initiatives to be pursued in parallel, not just renewable projects. We are talking a total energy system transformation to be done in the most affordable way possible. While we need to move on to an integrated systems approach the Governor and his advisors are stuck in linear thinking – we need leadership, collaboration, cooperation and action, not uninformed proclamations.
Business and regulatory certainty is a huge factor to a successful energy transformation. The attractiveness of Hawaii's energy transformation was rooted in its aggressive energy policies and regulatory guidance from the PUC's inclinations. However, by 8:45 a.m. yesterday morning all of that work and goodwill was carelessly thrown out the window.
And, sadly, the Governor’s Chief of Staff was the former Chief Executive Officer of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Where was sensitivity to a number of sponsors of this important clean energy showcase who had their eyes poked in the first 15 minutes after the opening of the conference? Auwe!