Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Dictatorial Pronouncement

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!


  1. It did seem like a flippant conclusion to a complex, technical problem. I am confused by aspirational positions that facilely ignore the realities of ensuring system reliability with all of these variable generating sources. Just like the sit-lie ban--it may solve one particular issue but ignores the greater issue of homelessness, just pushing the problem farther down the system. Reminds me of debates that used to happen about needle-distribution or condom distribution in the fight against AIDS--that using these strategies encouraged immoral behaviors and that all one needed to do was to practice abstinence. Nothing wrong with that aspirational focus, but to think of it as a solution? Ridiculous.

  2. LNG seems like an easy solution, but it still comes from off islands and eventually due to currency fluctuations even LNG will be expensive. Geothermal, even if not entirely clean, is from within the Hawaii economy, and even with currency turmoil that will be happening, will not become more expensive, at least not after the plant and facilities are built. Ige is right, Geothermal will be a better firm power source than LNG.

    1. Agreed 100% and geothermal can produce hydrogen for transportation and to create more electricity in fuel cells. The vision of Bloom Energy is to have its Bloom Box fuel cell in every home to fulfill all power needs.

      Geothermal energy in Iceland and New Zealand is very clean. PGV is using 40 year old technology.

      We need OTEC surrounding each island, but HECO kicked out the technology in favor of LNG.

    2. Geothermal is not available on Oahu where the big demand is. Since there is huge opposition to the cable, geothermal does not solve this problem. Plus it takes many years to site. Hawaii Gas is providing an elegant solution with relatively short term commitments for the offshore storage vessel. Has our governor even looked at this option and the reasonable economics? As an engineer and former budget manager he is missing an elegant, low risk, cost effective and truly interim solution.

  3. Quoting Mina Morita from "HECO - Wired to the Past, Honolulu Weekly, year 2000.

    "The utilities are setting up barriers," says Kaua‘i/ Maui Rep. Mina Morita. "Why should you move into these efficient systems when you get a slap on the hand for doing it?"

    "The problem is that HECO hasn’t figured out how to make money from new technology like distributed power or renewable energy," Morita said. "That’s why they put up all these barriers."

    Nothing has changed in 15 years. The same old roadblocks are there to protect profits and monopoly control at the expense of our economy, our environment, and Spaceship Earth.

    The HECO monopoly continues to use its money and political clout to call all the shots and remains as arrogant and controlling, as defiant and dictatorial, and as full of itself as ever, in declaring that it doesn't give a damn what the Governor says, that it will continue on its present course to import more fossil fuel ( LNG ).

    Apparently, some folks in a discussion at the Asia Pacific Summit this week are in agreement with supporting the continuation of the 100+ year old HECO monopoly dictatorship.

    HECO has had over 100 years to perfect its strategy of systematically stripping the Commission of engineers, accountants and lawyers to gain more dictatorial control over the PUC and DCA, both true corporate / utility monopoly advocates, not consumer advocates.

    In his REACH 2014 Legislative wrap up, Erik Kvam stated "The Cardinal Rule of Energy Policymakers is that energy policymakers (the legislature, the PUC) do not want to mandate the utility to do anything that the utility has indicated it does not want to do.”

    Now, Ms. Hermina Morita, who as PUC Chair, continued to accept the dictatorial edicts of the HECO monopoly, as did the DCA and her predecessors did the past 102 years, now has the audacity to come out in support of the HECO monopoly again by declaring that Governor Ige is being dictatorial. Hogwash! It is Ms. Morita who is incredibly naive, not the Governor.

    Here is what will happen if we continue to allow HECO to be the dictator, and fail to act boldly and decisively to eliminate ALL fossil fuel imports.


    HECO is a classic example of capitalism gone amok. The only option is to rethink its runaway capitalism by converting it to community owned, non-profit Co-ops across the State, and we will finally be following in the legacy of King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani. It is time for the ratepayers to be relevant, not HECO's stockholders. It is time for the people to rise up and march like those on Mauna Kea, to bring relevancy to the people and transformational change, not baby steps, to our energy landscape, to bring intergenerational and social-economic justice to our residents if the PUC, DCA, and politicians won't do it on their own as public servants.

    Paul Tudor Jones II loves capitalism. It's a system that has done him very well over the last few decades. Nonetheless, the hedge fund manager and philanthropist is concerned that a laser focus on profits is, as he puts it, "threatening the very underpinnings of society." In this thoughtful, passionate talk, he outlines his planned counter-offensive, which centers on the concept of "justness."


    For the first time in Hawaii's history, we have a Governor who is providing true vision and leadership to bring about sweeping, transformational changes, like Paniolo Power wants to do, instead of monopoly-protecting baby steps, to our energy landscape, and supporting for the first time, Article XI of the State Constitution, Public Trust Doctrine.


  4. Geothermal and solar could easily supply all the power we need. Helco is incompetent. $.35 per KWH, a new low, verses $.11 average for the rest of the US.

  5. If anyone still questions or doubts Hawaii Governor Ige's rationale for rejecting LNG for Hawaii, including former PUC Chair Hermina Morita, perhaps this NASA video will change their mind. It dramatizes the urgency to act swiftly, boldly, decisively, and transformationally, to stem the tide of climate change caused by the burning of ALL fossil fuels.

    No more worship of money at the expense of Spaceship Earth! No more dictatorial edicts by the HECO monopoly to protect its profits, its monopoly, its excessive dividends, and excessive executive compensation for its incompetent management, at the expense of people and planet. No more monopoly utility power period! No more monopolies, period! That includes Matson and Hawaiian Airlines. Public, non-profit power for the entire world must be the new edict for the 21st century.

    Josh Willis of Nasa explains the space agency’s announcement that a long-term satellite imaging study has shown a dramatic rise in sea levels due to climate change. He says the findings that sea levels worldwide rose an average of nearly 3 inches (8 cm) since 1992 could indicate how strongly impacted coastal populations will be in the coming century.

    Nasa: sea levels rising as a result of human-caused climate change – video

    The next version of the video suggests to this layman that sea levels have both risen and decreased around the Hawaiian Islands. Perhaps out local Weather folks can contact NASA for more information.

    New NASA Model Maps Sea Level Rise Like Never Before (Video)

    NRG electric utility CEO speaking about a sustainable future:

    "And make no mistake about our children. They will hold all of us accountable – true believers and climate deniers alike. The day is coming when our children sit us down in our dotage, look us straight in the eye, with an acute sense of betrayal and disappointment in theirs, and whisper to us, "You knew... and you didn't do anything about it. Why?" And for a long time, our string of excuses has run something like this: "We didn't have the technology...it would have been ruinously expensive...the government didn't make us do it..."

    But now we have the technology – actually, the suite of technologies – and they are safe, reliable and affordable as well as sustainable. They do not represent a compromise to our ability to enjoy a modern lifestyle. They represent an opportunity for us to do the right thing while multiplying shareholder value through greater value-added services. And these technological solutions are focused on the individual consumer - both businesses and individuals.

    – so the shameful passivity and failure to act of government is irrelevant.

    If we, as a nation, could land a man on the moon in 10 years, we can surely become 100% free of all fossil fuel ( oil and LNG ) in 10 years as well by 2025. Dutch Kuyper thinks that is a realistic goal for Hawaii Island. Just get the obstructionist HECO monopoly the hell out of the way!

    All it takes is courage, conviction, determination, focus, the highest of ethical and moral standards, unfortunately lacking in our politicians, the "right stuff" that many politicians lack, the right knowhow, wisdom, and expertise, elimination of the profit motive, and a lot of basic common sense that has been blocked by the idolatry of money by politicians and HECO alike, at all costs to our economy, our people, and our planet. We must have transformational change, not baby steps that will merely help HECO survive and maintain monopoly control for another 100 years. In this case, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

    Hawaii is running out of time. Governor Ige made the correct decision - no more fossil fuel imports! Tick Tock, Tick Tock.