Letters 12-28-2012


Energy

Arguing against the deep-sea cable plan

The wide-ranging needs of Hawaii communities for electricity have grown substantially over the past decade. Simultaneously, the parallel dependency upon the production and distribution of electricity has not kept pace. A consequence of this dependency and inadequate supply has brought with it an increased consumer cost and disruptions arising from temporized solutions.

Unfortunately, because of this dependency upon centralized generation for electricity, the ensuing increase in the distribution costs from remote production sites have risen in relation to the economic availability in areas of need. In this respect, a major problem has been created. User costs have commensurately increased and are continuing to inflate as demand increases.

Mega-million dollar projects for manufacture and distribution are now being proposed for solving these demand problems. The lockstep thinking about centralizing production is shortsighted and appears more propelled by profit than long-term consideration of actual needs.

Aside from the cost and the centralized environmental impact of large remote and inefficient production facilities, there arises the specter of catastrophic failure of these facilities due to natural and man-made causes. For this reason alone, the potential long-term and expensive disruption to an orderly society will be more profound and must be considered. Also, for the Hawaiian Islands, due to ocean separations, these problems are compounded. In essence, the currently proposed solutions are illogical and unjustifiably expensive. They will not provide assurance of an adequate and reliable power system. Further, the centralized power production will exacerbate the ills that are manifest in the existing distribution system.

In evaluations for the common needs of all the islands, there is insufficient focus on the redesign of the whole system. A more realistic and practical system concept would be to develop decentralized production of small, efficiently scaled energy harvesting and distributing equipment, both wind and water — locally owned and operated. The equipment technology for more efficient smaller units exists, the costs are lower and the profits from their application will be locally earned and distributed.

Four years ago, a small LLC (Kawelo) was founded and incorporated by residents of the island of Hawaii. Kawelo has been granted an option to use and sub-license a patented wind and water technology that has been developed on the mainland. The purpose of providing Kawelo the license at the beginning was to raise funds to bring an alternative energy harvesting technology to the islands — a technology that would be amenable to producing and distributing electrical energy on a local scale independent of the existing distribution grid.

A small representative working model of the technology was transported to the Captain Cook area for display and demonstration purposes. The model demonstrates a patented technology that is significantly more efficient than that of a wind turbine. There have been no federal or state funds expended on the development of this technology and no tax credits are expected beyond the normal adjustments made for small business startups and independent operators. There are also complementary technological advances imported being developed for the local distribution aspects.

Hawaii needs to make itself energy independent. The importation of oil and other resources that do not exist on the islands is unnecessary. Energy derived from naturally occurring wind and water is abundantly available and can be harvested with simple mechanisms that are more efficient than the ones being used today. Hawaii need to take a critical look at all of the natural energy conversion systems available and organize a reasonable program for utilizing their potential for alleviating the distress that is becoming more unmanageable in context with indigenous needs.

There are alternatives to be considered.

Ron Mitchell

Gene R. Kelley

CEO

W2 Energy Development Corp.

Santa Barbara, Calif.

Highway funds

Prepare for a change

Sen. Daniel Inouye used his political clout to secure funding for the Saddle Road and Ane Keohokalole Highway projects. These improvements have positively impacted the quality of life on the Big Island. However, Hawaii’s new congressional delegation won’t have the same political clout that Inouye had.

Big-ticket projects such as Saddle Road Extension and Ane Keohokalole Highway Phase 2 will be competing for limited federal highway funds. Some of these on-deck highway projects may have to be phased, curtailed or scuttled entirely as a result.

Hawaii County and the Hawaii Department of Transportation need to plan for this contingency.

Hawaii County should explore alternative funding mechanisms for future roadway projects. Floating bonds and depending on federal highway funds isn’t sustainable.

The Ane Keohokalole Highway and Saddle Road projects will leave a lasting legacy for future generations. However, I hope Hawaii County and Hawaii Department of Transportation prepare for life post-Inouye.

Aaron Stene

Kailua-Kona

Mahalo

Service appreciated

On Dec. 8, I used the hazardous waste drop off at the Kona site.

The organization was professional, the courtesy filled with aloha spirit and the process was expeditious.

All those involved, from paid to volunteer, should be recognized and thanked for the excellent job they did.

Frank Critelli

Kailua-Kona