Thoughts about Ha column
Some thoughts on the Richard Ha column in the April 13 Tribune-Herald (“Cheap power for Hawaii Island”).
First off, I believe Richard Ha to be a model for a sensible, successful, farmer/businessman. We need more like Richard Ha. Richard rightly pointed out the high cost of electric power underlies the cost of all goods and services on Hawaii Island.
He pointed out farmers are first of all businessmen. They need to make a profit, or they can’t continue in the farming business. And Richard didn’t say so, but Hawaii laws are notoriously anti-business.
Our high Hawaii Island price of electricity results from: (1) high fuel costs; (2) large distribution area; (3) widely disbursed generating stations; and (4) relatively low power consumption. So, the cost of everything in Hawaii is effected. It’s the price of paradise, for us all.
Richard suggests several alternatives to fuel oil for producing electric power, and that’s where he and I differ. Some of his suggestions are reliable, and some are not.
In my view, the first responsibility of HELCO is to provide reliable service. The lowest cost should be its second priority.
Of course, we all wish the electric power was cheaper, but it needs to be reliable first. Richard suggests several alternative ways of producing power, but one is not reliable.
Solar is a unreliable source, minute to minute, day to night, and season to season. But imported oil and natural gas (and universally hated coal) are reliable. Locally produced geothermal, hydro-electric and biomass are reliable.
One of the wondrous things about the Big Island is we can raise a protest over just about anything.
So, we have had major, loud, sometimes screaming protests about proposed geothermal, hydro-electric and biomass power plants. And now, on Kauai, we even have a major protest against a dairy farm.
Our wonderful climate, rich soil and abundant water make Hawaii an ideal place for farming. And we can easily generate power from available natural sources.
But it looks like we will continue to burn residual fuel oil and diesel, and even some jet fuel, in our power stations, and import most of our food and milk.
I wonder if the protesters might work for the oil companies?