INDEX - ENERGY ID# 0807-16



POSTED: 27 JUNE 2008- 7:00am EST

Reliability not a reason to stick with oil

image above: Control Room of the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant, in Oregon, demolished in 2006

by Theodore E. Liu on 26 June 2008 in The Garden Island News

Dennis Esaki, chair of the KIUC board of directors, is quoted in the June 18 article “Lingle: Hawai‘i must ease oil reliance” as saying that “reliability has to take into account everything to keep the power on.” I believe the “everything” Mr. Easki refers to needs to include our state’s and our citizens’ vulnerability to oil supply disruption and to oil price volatility.

I applaud KIUC’s farsighted goal of generating 50 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2023. However, reliability has been a mantra to hide behind and avoid making necessary changes and taking calculated risks. As a result, ever since Hawai‘i first felt the adverse impact of our over-dependence on foreign oil more than 30 years ago, very little has changed. At 90 percent dependence, Hawai‘i is still the most foreign-oil-dependent state in the U.S.

By no means am I advocating ignoring reliability. The Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative, a partnership between the state and U.S. Department of Energy to have 70 percent of Hawai‘i’s energy come from renewable sources, includes working with KIUC to help evaluate future renewable energy options and to measure risk in choosing its future energy portfolio. We believe all good portfolios balance reliability and risk. I believe technical and engineering solutions exist to do so. The U.S. Department of Energy and its partners also believe they exist.

Hawai‘i needs the utilities to help lead us into the future. They must provide not just electric reliability to keep the lights on, but help provide the economic basis for that reliability. If foreign oil supply is disrupted, it does not matter that we have a reliable system. Lights will not go on. And substituting imported and expensive foreign biofuels for imported and expensive foreign oil leaves us in a similar position.

Reliability cannot be a reason to stick with a foreign oil future. KIUC has taken a great step forward in setting an aggressive goal and we hope it continues to explore and execute reliable but strategic electricity solutions.

• Theodore E. Liu is the director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.

Hawaii energy security trumps reliability
Does KIUC disagree?

by Ken Stokes on 25 June 2008 in

overnor Linda Lingle recently told Kauai business leaders that oil-burning systems can no longer be considered the most dependable form of generation (in The Garden Island News 6/18).

KIUC Board Chair, Dennis Esaki, replied that Hawaii’s reliance on oil is better than coal and reliability remains the top concern.

Reporter Blake Jones got in some editorializing, noting that “the KIUC board of directors has consistently responded that it has an obligation to keep the lights on, which it couldn’t guarantee if it hastily invested in new technologies that have not been thoroughly vetted.”

Did they say that? Does Esaki disagree that security is the dominant threat?
Jones also reports that the board feels “KIUC is too small to research and pioneer each renewable idea that comes along.”

Did they say that, too?

These reporter’s impressions may accurately reflect the attitudes of the current board majority. If so, we may need to have broader discussion of these issues before we elect three new KIUC board members next March.

Jones also says “runaway oil prices have heightened the sense of urgency among some renewable advocates and consumers for faster implementation.” That’s true!
Jones concludes that “virtually undisputed, however, is a need to change the system that’s worked for so long.” That’s also true!

Oh, and, Jones is also right that KIUC’s commitment to 50 percent renewable energy generation by 2023 was the most ambitious in Hawai‘i seven months ago, yet has since been surpassed by state and national targets. So it goes.

Still, when Jones reports that Esaki “didn’t agree with Lingle that reliability should take a back seat or with her description of oil dependence in Hawai‘i,” ya gotta wonder if that’s wot he said.

Jones’ only Esaki quote is this: ““Reliability has to take into account everything to keep the power on.” That’s pretty much true by definition.

At least Esaki can sleep easier, knowing he hasn’t pushed “hasty” investments in green energy tech.
And Kauai households can sleep easier, knowing the lights will stay on…as long as the oil lasts (heh).

A Comment on KIUC
by David Ward on 26 June 2008

I have been attending KIUC board meetings, a recent community outreach meeting, and their annual picnic last Saturday. My take from those meetings is that Blake Jones is spot on in his reporting. The board follows the lead of the CEO Randy Hee. Most board members do not speak out at all so I have no idea what their opinions, concerns, and the direction they want the co-op to move are. If they have any at all. Is this a result of the gag order, or a go-along to-get-along capitulation? Randy Hee seems to think that high oil pricing is a temporary aberration and expects the price of oil to be $80 a barrel soon. This tells me he is in denial about global peak oil. I have in the recent past, given printouts on peak oil to all the KIUC board members and to Mr. Hee. Of course, I don’t know if anyone read it.

At the Apollo Kauai meeting last month, Randy Hee was the guest speaker on hydropower. According to Mr. Hee all hydro projects were too hard to do or too small for KIUC to be involved with. It was the most depressing Apollo Kauai meeting I have ever attended.

Yes, we need a new board who can think for themselves and aware of the urgency of our situation. Co-op members, please prevail on Ken Stokes and Ben Sullivan to run again. Can you suggest a third candidate so we have a complete slate of progressive candidates in the next election?

see also:
Island Breath: Lingle questions "reliability' priority
Island Breath: KIUC hits net metering wall
Island Breath: UH sees our "crude awakening
Island Breath: Ten assumptions of oil addicts
Island Breath: Kauai Over a Barrel
Island Breath: The Heinberg "Powerdown" 10/17/07
Island Breath: Looking Through Peak Oil Lenses 4/14/06
Island Breath: Peak Oil and Hawaii Economic Collapse 6/15/05