Thursday, February 28, 2013

Where is Hawaii Transportation Headed?

Remarks to the Hawaii Venture Capital Association and ThinkTech Transportation Panel, Plaza Club, February 28, 2013.

Aloha and thank you for the opportunity to present you my take on the future of transportation in Hawaii.
  • Honolulu has among the nation's worst quality roads.
  • Honolulu has among the worst traffic congestion particularly among peer cities.
  • Hawaii has among the highest rates for drunken driving.
To solve all these highway related problems, Honolulu ordered a 5 billion dollar train.

The unquestionable and predictable result is that all these problems will get far worse by the time the train is installed. And by that time Honolulu will be short on transportation funds.

With less funding, there is no doubt that the congestion, maintenance and safety problems will get even worse.

In December 2007 Hawaii got the private Superferry. This was a means to get bulky items, equipment and vehicles between islands in 3 to 6 hours instead of 3 to 6 days. However, Hawaii did its best to preserve its way of moving bulky items, equipment and vehicles between the islands in 3 to 6 days.  A key supporter of the Superferry's execution is now Hawaii’s Representative in Congress.

Hawaii is probably the most oil dependent place on earth. Sure many Greek and other small islands depend on diesel generators to make power but their winter population is usually 1,000 to 10,000 people. Here we have 1.5 million people in the middle of the Pacific and we are about 80% dependent on oil and its volatile pricing.

Instead of investing in solid alternatives like coal, natural gas, trash and geothermal, we are now approaching the waste of one half billion dollars on flaky wind and solar.

Worse yet, we are extremely fuel dependent for land, air and sea transportation. Smart government should have found means to develop gobbles of cheap electricity so that we can extract fuels from algae and biomass to fuel vehicles, boats and airplanes.

But our flaky government is concerned with plastic bags and shortcuts to development, like the PLDC. And we are losing the Tesoro refinery.

The Tesoro plant used to make asphalt, but county and state government wouldn’t commit to a schedule of road repairs. So about 10 years ago Tesoro stopped making cheap asphalt. So now we need to bring it in and store it.

Hawaii government promotes EVs by making expensive, anti-business mandatory parking and charging regulations. At the same time Hawaii offers EV buyers the highest electricity rates in the nation, to punish EVs as much as possible.

The cost of power in Hawaii is three times the US average. So the 90 MPGe Nissan Leaf is 30 MPGe in Hawaii. Do you know how many conventional cars you can buy that deliver 30 mpg or more, and have a much lower price, and require no subsidy like the five grand we dole out for each EV?

And answer me this. Why are we even promoting EVs when 90% of our electricity comes from oil and coal? Each EV that clocks about 50 miles per day consumes as much electricity as a modest house with 4 people. Isn't this a fake and indeed disastrous oil independence policy?

Again thanks to our silly renewable mandates the KWh rates will only go up, so we will get less power, less reliability, and higher rates.

What's the future of transportation in Hawaii you ask?  In the past quarter century, transportation (except for TheBus,) public education and energy performance in Hawaii have ranked in the bottom half in the US or very near the bottom. I expect that this level of poor performance will get worse.

Although there are great alternatives, Hawaii is actively burying its potential for a bright future. Cost-effective decision making, long term sustainability planning, and accountability with stiff penalties are all absent. And so is our chance for improvement.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Transportation and Economy

This is a 22 minute lecture on the very many facets of Transportation and its effect in the regional, national and world Economy.

It's in the format of a movie for my public access TV show Panos 2050: Sustainable Solutions for Hawaii on Transportation and Economy.

Click the link and wait a few seconds for the movie to load.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Energy from Trash Should Be a Priority for Hawaii

Read the full article in Honolulu Civil Beat. Selected highlights:

The long term economy of Waste to Energy (WtE) plants is very good. There is plenty fuel (trash, waste and biomass). Municipalities pay the WtE plant to take their trash. The utility pays the WtE plant for the mega-watts of electricity it produces. Trash volume reduces 6 to 10 times so landfill demand is minimized.
  • Sweden imports waste from other Europe to fuel its WtE program. Maui should install a WtE plant and bring in trash from Big Island, Lanai and Molokai. Oahu should plan for another 100 MW of WtE (about half of it tuned to burn biomass, sludge and manure) and bring in trash from Kauai. Barges return to Honolulu from Kauai practically empty.
  • Both Oahu and Maui should consider ordering a sophisticated MRF, or Materials Recovery Facility, to better sort materials such as glass (by color), stones and similar inert materials, and all types of metals out of the trash. This would result in a cleaner burn at the WtE plant and revenue from recyclables, e.g., mixed glass is nearly worthless but glass sorted by color has value. So do sorted metals.
  • To make Oahu more sustainable we should revise what we currently trash and what we recycle at home in the BLACK, GREEN and BLUE bins, as detailed in the post below.
Last but not least, The Economist notes that "Energy from waste plants that use trash as a fuel to generate electricity and heat continue to have an image problem. That is unfair, because the technology has advanced considerably and has cleaned up its act." As depicted in the image blow, very large part of modern WtE plants is devoted to pollution control.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Oahu Household Recycling

  • Honolulu has the most expensive electricity rates among U.S. metro areas, by far.
  • Oahu makes about 8% of its electricity from trash. It should plan to make 20% by 2020.
  • Oahu generates thousands of tons of paper, plastic, and cardboard trash. This is free fuel for the production of electricity. Instead of making power with it, we waste energy to bale it and ship it out. That’s nuts!
  • The next four slides explain what to recycle and what to throw in the trash.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Americans With No Abilities Act

I could not resist posting this hilarious chain email. Of course it does not apply to 50% of the Americans, but it does portray quite a few...

The Americans With No Abilities Act is being hailed as a major legislative goal by advocates of the millions of Americans who lack any real skills or ambition.

"Roughly 50% of Americans do not possess the competence and drive necessary to carve out a meaningful role for themselves in society," said California Sen. Barbara Boxer. "We can no longer stand by and allow People of Inability (POI) to be ridiculed and passed over. With this legislation, employers will no longer be able to grant special favors to a small group of workers, simply because they have some idea of what they are doing."

In a Capitol Hill press conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pointed to the success of the U.S. Postal Service, which has a long-standing policy of providing opportunity without regard to performance. At the state government level, the Department of Motor Vehicles also has an excellent record of hiring Persons with No Ability (63%).

Under the Americans With No Abilities Act, more than 25 million mid-level positions will be created, with important-sounding titles but little real responsibility, thus providing an illusory sense of purpose and performance.

Mandatory non-performance-based raises and promotions will be given to guarantee upward mobility for even the most unremarkable employees. The legislation provides substantial tax breaks to corporations that promote a significant number of Persons of Inability (POI) into middle-management positions, and give a tax credit to small and medium-sized businesses that agree to hire one clueless worker for every two talented hires.

Finally, the Americans With No Abilities Act contains tough new measures to make it more difficult to discriminate against the non-able, banning, for example, discriminatory interview questions such as, "Do you have any skills or experience that relate to this job?"

"As a non-able person, I can't be expected to keep up with people who have something going for them," said Mary Lou Gertz, who lost her position as a lug-nut twister at the GM plant in Flint, Mich., due to her inability to remember righty tighty, lefty loosey. "This new law should be real good for people like me. l finally have job security." With the passage of this bill, Gertz and millions of other untalented citizens will finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Said Sen. Dick Durbin: "As a senator with no abilities, I believe the same privileges that elected officials enjoy ought to be extended to every American with no abilities. It is our duty as lawmakers to provide each and every American citizen, regardless of his or her inadequacy, with some sort of space to take up in this great nation and a good salary for doing so."

We have kick-started this program by having a POI in the White House.