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HECO spending $1 million on renewable energy campaign

Stung by opposition that killed a proposed wind farm in Leeward Oahu but under continuing pressure to create renewable sources of power, Hawaiian Electric Co. has launched a series of advertisements telling customers it's up to them to help wean the state from its dependence on oil.

Stung by opposition that killed a proposed wind farm in Leeward Oahu but under continuing pressure to create renewable sources of power, Hawaiian Electric Co. has launched a series of advertisements telling customers it's up to them to help wean the state from its dependence on oil.

Hawaii's largest electric utility will spend as much as $1 million this year on television and print ads urging communities to support the creation of new ways to harness energy from the sun, wind, land, ocean and even volcanoes.

"Maybe that will help us get over our sense of 'not in my backyard' because it's in everybody's backyard," said Robbie Alm, HECO's senior vice president for community affairs.

State officials have set a goal of drawing 20 percent of Hawaii's energy from renewable sources such as solar, wind or geothermal power by 2020. That mandate is in addition to the pressure HECO already faces trying to come up with new power sources as its aging power plants reach or exceed capacity.

With gas costing more than $3 per gallon, and fuel surcharges being tacked on to electric bills, HECO executives believed the time was right to get the public's attention.

"From our point of view, that's... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Stung by opposition that killed a proposed wind farm in Leeward Oahu but under continuing pressure to create renewable sources of power, Hawaiian Electric Co. has launched a series of advertisements telling customers it's up to them to help wean the state from its dependence on oil.
 
Hawaii's largest electric utility will spend as much as $1 million this year on television and print ads urging communities to support the creation of new ways to harness energy from the sun, wind, land, ocean and even volcanoes.
 
"Maybe that will help us get over our sense of 'not in my backyard' because it's in everybody's backyard," said Robbie Alm, HECO's senior vice president for community affairs.
 
State officials have set a goal of drawing 20 percent of Hawaii's energy from renewable sources such as solar, wind or geothermal power by 2020. That mandate is in addition to the pressure HECO already faces trying to come up with new power sources as its aging power plants reach or exceed capacity.
 
With gas costing more than $3 per gallon, and fuel surcharges being tacked on to electric bills, HECO executives believed the time was right to get the public's attention.
 
"From our point of view, that's going to take a lot of communities in the state accepting renewable energy as part of their communities," said Alm. "If we really do want to do this, if we want to get off of oil, it's everybody's problem, it's not just Hawaiian Electric's."
 
Only a fraction of Hawaii's electricity comes from renewable sources, most of that geothermal and garbage-to-energy. Kaheawa Wind Power, a company that began operating a new 30-megawatt wind farm on Maui last month, expects to supply 9 percent of Maui's electricity to HECO subsidiary Maui Electric Co.
 
Last month, Shell Oil Co. announced plans to spend $200 million to build a 40-megawatt wind farm at West Maui's remote Ulupalakua Ranch in a partnership with HECO subsidiary Renewable Hawaii Inc.
 
While HECO lost millions experimenting unsuccessfully with wind power in the 1980s, Jeff Mikulina, director of the Sierra Club Hawaii chapter, noted that companies from outside Hawaii are now taking the lead in creating renewable energy plants and selling the electricity they generate back to HECO and its subsidiaries.
 
"Hawaiian Electric has not historically been in the renewable energy business. They're in the fossil fuel business," he said. "We think that they're scared to death of this disruptive technology that could turn over their entire business model."
 
Last fall, HECO was dealt a setback when its proposed wind farm on a ridge above its Kahe Power Plant was denounced by residents of the Waianae Coast. The company now is negotiating to place the giant power-generating turbines in the hills above Kahuku.
 
"One of the issues that came up, we kept seeing people say 'Kahe wind failed,'" Alm said. "The tone was that even though you tried to get in there, its failure was your responsibility."
 
Mikulina said the Sierra Club would rather see HECO spend its money developing renewable energy products.
 
"We're afraid that these ads are just going to be more propaganda that Hawaiian Electric is doing more renewable energy and they're not," he said. "And we're using less and less clean energy in Hawaii than we have for decades."
 
The ad campaign produced by Core Group One, a Honolulu advertising agency, features former KGMB news anchor Jade Moon. In the print ad, she is seen standing in a field in a photo sandwiched between pictures of ocean waves and wind turbines. A photo of an oil tanker is placed in an upper corner of the ad, which Alm said is meant to underscore the islands' current dependence on imported fuel.
 
The print ad also lists 10 ways Hawaii can mine enough energy from its natural resources on each island to come up with 500 megawatts of power.
 
"We sure hope that everybody who has a position ... will [realize that] to get there we need a lot of yeses to get there and a lot less noes," Alm said. "And a lot of those yeses are on the part of the political leadership."
 
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JUL 17 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/3546-heco-spending-1-million-on-renewable-energy-campaign
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