I just finished reading the transcript of the "open session" the Public Utilities Commission hosted last month: the format included a lively conversation between moderator Maurice Kaya (project director for Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture) and lawyer/consultant/"guest presenter," Scott Hempling. I am now sorry I couldn't be there, for two reasons.
Despite the fact that 93 percent or 95 percent or 99 percent of Molokai residents oppose the wind turbines, there remains an open opportunity for promoters to buy "community leaders" to spin it their way. If the community could speak with one official voice, then the auditions would stop and the opportunities for selling out would dry up.
Given the enormous scope of Big Wind - its costs to HECO ratepayers as well as to neighbor islanders - this project needs to be vetted in the most transparent, accessible forum as possible. The public must pay attention - and, through Maui County and the environmental organization, now stands to benefit from a greater degree of openness.
But anyone who has been close enough to such behemoths, either along the highways in southern Spain, on the coast of Nova Scotia, near the sand dunes on Prince Edward Island and in southern Alberta, knows that they are noisy and intrusive, regardless of their green credentials. Nobody in his right mind would want to live within earshot of these things.
Our land, culture and futures are too important to rush to one potential energy solution when so much is at stake. Too few have truly studied the emerging detriment, poor efficacy, and hidden costs - some irreversible - of industrial wind. Until that information is properly studied, evaluated and publicly available to the people of Hawaii, it cannot and should not be pursued or presented as the inevitable solution to our energy crisis.
But please do not support this Oahu industrial wind power plant on Lanai that is too expensive and has a negative cost/benefit to taxpayers, ratepayers and all Hawaii residents. It is an example of "green greed," that benefits the developers through artificial government tax credits and not the people of Hawaii.
Boy, that was fast. Only five years into the world's renewable energy push, many utility companies are so concerned about grid instability that they're saying they can't accept any more electricity from intermittent sources of power. Translation: Solar power only runs in the day time and can't be relied on for so called "baseload" capacity. Wind power primarily produces current at night and, likewise, can't be relied upon for baseload capacity.
According to the Jan. 4 edition of "Engineering News Record," a most respected publication, the cable and wind farms could eventually cost up to $6 billion and take 10 years to complete. The cable would strengthen Hawaiian Electric's monopoly grids and cost the tax- and ratepayers billions to fund this project. Millions have already been spent on studying the ocean floor, the grid, marketing and more. It seems that none of the parties involved have done the basic math.
I'd like to share some thoughts on wind energy with you. My problems with wind energy have been the same for 40 years and little has changed to modify any of this. After 40 years of heavy subsidies, dedicated government research programs (wind mills just aren't that complex), wind energy is still a small marginal source of unreliable energy.
Even with government mandated Renewable Portfolio Standards (government edicts, not free markets), which force the utilities to buy this costly energy, the problems are more costly and the engineering problems remain.
Both senatorial candidates as did many other candidates used the same talking points for Hawaii’s energy future. Many uniformly supported and promoted wind, solar, and ethanol, as the road to energy nirvana. The politics of Hawaii demands an absolute deference to these energy sources or risk political oblivion. But it needs to be said that a state or nation heavily dependent upon these future energy sources is in serious trouble. Yet this is where the political forces of Hawaii are leading.
Whether in the workplace, the home, or the vehicles which move us, electrical demands are increasing even as we use it more efficiently. Both memory chips and power chips are getting larger and more powerful. Even our vehicles are becoming more electrified from bumper to bumper. The trends will continue. This future will need large amouns of highly controlled, reliable, and purified electricity to help the U.S. economy remain productive. Wind energy is the antithesis of such energy needs.
Depending upon how many of these towers are erected, this could look like an appendix scar on the side of the mountain.
There is this enormous and dangerous assumption embraced by the Governor [of Hawaii] that "renewable" energy sources will save the day.
Even if wind turbines were built in Hawaii, excess capacity would have to be built to handle peak loads in the event that the winds weren’t blowing or the islands would experience brown-outs or black outs. The fact that the periods of highest demands would coincide with a drop off in wind speed means wind turbines cannot be counted on the meet peak load demands in Hawaii. So electrical generating capacity would have to be built twice, first as wind turbines and second as backup peak capacity protection.