Monday, March 19, 2012
Energy Production in Hawai'i
Hawai'i is in an amazing position to take advantage of renewable energy. There is great potential for wave, wind, solar, and geothermal here. Despite this, 90% of energy production comes from oil imported to Hawai'i, which makes this one of the highest rates for electricity in the nation (link and link). This is crazy. In response people have started putting up solar panels on their homes and now Hawai'i is the second in the nation, per capita, for solar power use. Companies have sprung up that will install panels on your house for free, and you pay your (lower) electric bill to them to recoup the cost. This allows homeowners to get into solar without an upfront money barrier (besides owning the home of course). However, there is an attempt here to stop solar. I heard it on the radio driving home from work and couldn't believe it. Recall that electricity is run as a monopoly that is coordinated through government regulations, and does not operate as a free capitalist market. The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission has set a limit of 15% of energy that can come from renewable sources, the rest has to come from oil! On the radio I heard that several areas are at this limit and there is effectively a moratorium on adding solar in some neighborhoods (but I have not been able to verify this last point independently). This is being fought by several solar and renewable energy organizations that are managing to get some amendments made to the ruling (link).