Your Views for August 31


Bleed for electricity

The full-page HELCO ad which appeared in the Aug. 28 issue of the Tribune-Herald is appropriately colored red all over. The ad promises a bright future of cheaper, 100 percent renewable electricity. Cheaper? It is not possible under the current structure.

Consider the quadrant of the ad titled, “Tomorrow.” Here we have two for-profit companies that want to take advantage of generous incentives for the production of renewable energy, that then want to sell their product to our for-profit utility, which would in turn sell it to us, the rate-payers.

The neat thing for HELCO is that its profit is protected by the Public Utilities Commission under their policy of decoupling announced in 2008. The Aina Koa Pono project to convert vegetable matter in Ka‘u to biofuel by an unproven method, if it ever works as promised, is projected to produce such expensive fuel that it would generate a surcharge on all our bills.

The Hu Honua biomass incineration project in Pepeekeo proposes to convert the Hamakua forest resource into electricity by a dirty, polluting, inefficient and unsustainable method and should never have been permitted, as it will be a great detriment to all of East Hawaii. So much for biofuel and biomass.

If you conserve on electricity usage you are actually driving up the rate since HELCO gets to sell less electricity so under decoupling it will ask for a rate increase. If you install a photovoltaic system you are also driving up the rate and you may be slapped with a huge assessment if enough of your neighbors have already installed PV. These assessments are already preventing some folks from installing PV. So much for solar.

The full development of geothermal energy would be the most promising way to proceed, but in my opinion it will only bring about cheaper electricity if it is developed by the state as a true public utility that is not designed to bleed the rate-payers. New transmission lines would have to be built since HELCO now owns all the lines. There can be no competition otherwise.

I don’t think I will live long enough to see cheaper electricity on Hawaii Island. In the meantime, we can continue to celebrate the fact that we have the highest rates in the country. After all, this is supposed to be paradise, not the extortion state.

Adrienne S. Dey

Hilo

Counting fatalities

A couple of questions for our “officials”: Why isn’t a person who dies after being hospitalized for more than 31 days as a result of injuries suffered in a traffic accident not counted toward the official traffic fatality count?

Why is a person who dies from injuries suffered as a result of a traffic accident on a private road not counted toward the official traffic fatality count?

Sounds to me that in either case, the “officials” are trying to make us feel good by citing “less traffic fatalities” in one year as related to a previous year! Final question: Why do the Tribune-Herald reporters find it necessary to describe the vehicles by year, make and model when describing an accident? Are they compiling certain statistical evidence that perhaps more vehicles of a certain year, make and model are more (or less) likely to become involved in accidents?

Ron Baptista

Mountain View

 

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