Thursday, May 24, 2012

Energy Challenge: Options for Power Generation and Hawaii’s Path Forward

Excerpt of my article in the Civil Beat:

Hawaii has several special and severe problems:
  1. Extreme electric power price gauging which international oil markets and proposed EPA regulations for oil and coal burning power plants will make increasingly intolerable.
  2. U.S. mainland solutions such as natural gas and nuclear are less promising for Hawaii.
  3. The Jones Act governing US marine transportation restricts Hawaii’s fuel supply.
  4. Absence of a plan for fuel shortages and local fuel production.
  5. Utopian views and policies about clean energy in which cost effectiveness is not even a factor.
  6. Land and development plans intertwined with energy solutions.
  7. Extreme political influence on what is fundamentally a technical problem.
  8. One power monopoly with Gordian tentacles.
  9. Regulators with questionable expertise and motivation.
  10. Hawaii’s extreme NIMBYism due to its natural beauty, cultural resources and strict environmental laws.

What does the future hold for Hawaii? Hawaii with its mandates and high feed-in tariffs is moving in the direction of scarce and expensive energy by incentivizing increasingly larger deployments of costly, intermittent and ineffective power plants which are also too wimpy to affect the oil-based monopoly.

Read a brief backgrounder on Energy and Power, and Hawaii's options for reducing its severe energy dependency on oil in the full article.