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State of Hawai`i Energy Policy – From Climate Change to Microgrids, Carbon Taxes and Beyond

Greta Thunberg addressed a United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2018. The 16-year-old noted, We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis.”

Hurricane Lane

For Hawai’i, Hurricane Lane should serve as a wake-up call. In August 2018, Lane barrelled towards O`ahu. If its strength had been maintained for another 24-48 hours, devastating would have occurred.

Thomas Travis, the Administrator for the State of Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (Hi-EMA), asked the Pacific Disaster Center to run a Category 4 Hurricane Lane scenario for striking O`ahu.   The damage would be $116 billion, 159,000 O`ahu people (23,000 older than 64) would need short-term shelter, and over 8 million tons of debris on roads would have to be cleared. Hawai`i has a three-day supply of medicine and a five-day supply of real food. This assessment was presented at a 2019 EUCI conference in Waikiki.

The five-day food supply count-down would start two-days before the storm hit. Theoretically, we then have a two-week supply of MREs (Meals, Ready-to-Eat), a self-contained, individual field ration provided by FEMA and the U.S. Department of Defense. The nearest re-supply port is five-days away.

Disaster Planning

The 2018 State of Hawai’i Hazard Mitigation Plan Update offers insights into preparing for the next disaster.

Hawai`i has weathered tropical storms, hurricanes, rain bombs, flash floods, extensive back-to-back lightning strikes, the reconfiguration and disruption of the polar vortex causing snow to hit Hawai`i at record low elevations, and rain-induced mudslides caused rock debris to cover one of O`ahuʻs three highways crossing the Ko`olau Mountains.

The Pali Highway from Honolulu to Kailua will have limited service for months. There will be one-way traffic only over the mountain flowing into town during the morning and flowing away from town during the evening commutes.

The ability of Hawai`i to whether an event will depend upon the intensity of the event, how much time we will have to prepare for it, how widespread it is, and how much advance preparation occurs.

The resupply chain is key: ports, harbors, and airports need to be secured and free of debris. Hawai`i has a three-day supply of medicine, a five-to-nineteenday supply of food, and a thirty-day supply of oil.
Post-event debris must be cleared from roads and placed somewhere. O`ahu lacks space to store the debris from a major event.
Growing economic inequality means that a sizeable percentage of the population is focused on surviving today, not planning for a future disaster.

Carbon Sequestration

The Hawai`i Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Task Force will meet on Thursday, February 28, 2019, 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm at the Hawaii State Art Museum, the old Hemmeter Building adjacent to the State Capitol, 250 South Hotel Street, in the Ground Floor Multipurpose Room.

The Task Force will receive reports on Pathways to Reach Carbon Neutrality in Hawaii, State Carbon Offset Forestry Projects, Sequestration Potential of Pasture, Proposed Projects, and the Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Initiative.

Climate Change Shelters

Climate change is warming the oceans near Hawai`i, moving the warm belt northward, increasing the chance of devastating hurricanes striking the islands. One mitigating solution would be to convert school buildings into facilities that are able to be both schools and emergency shelters.

Should schools be converted for energy shelters when there is an inadequate supply of housing for residents? Should schools stock massive amounts of energy food supply while large sectors of the local population don`t have enough to eat?

Or should all new buildings and all retrofits throughout Hawai`i be built using building codes that require construction methods and on-site renewables and storage to enable them to survive a Category 4 hurricane, and through the Aloha Spirit, assist neighbors in times of disaster?

Decentralized Resilience – microgrids are a start

The Public Utilities Commission issued a White Paper in April 2014 calling for Integrated Energy Districts or microgrids. The Legislature passed legislation supporting microgrids.

The Public Utilities Commission directed the Hawaiian Electric Companies to open a regulatory proceeding on Integrated Grid Planning, that is, how to shift the emphasis away from centralized generation and transmission and towards using the distribution system as a platform for local supply and demand.

The Public Utilities Commission is examining how to standardize Microgrid tariffs, the document that established criteria and costs for interfacing third-party microgrids with the utility grid.

Camp Smith in Aiea provides military support and logistics from Hawai`i to the East Coast of Asia and the East Coast of Africa.  The camp has layered microgrids–outer and inner microgrids and distributed generators—to guarantee power.

The Department of Education is establishing a microgrid test pilot at an O`ahu school.

“The Department [of Education] will complete a pilot project at 3633 Waialae Avenue by the end of March 2019. The pilot project seeks to determine the feasibility and economic viability of a combination of solar renewable energy, battery backup power, and diesel fuel generator system at a DOE facility. Following analysis and testing of this pilot project, the DOE will be able to report to the Legislature whether implementation of similar systems at designated school shelters is viable.”

Any Hawai`i university campus, large commercial shopping center, or military base can legally make its own microgrid supplied with rooftop solar and wind combined with energy storage. But if that system failed, the utility would need to have a massive supply available in a microsecond to power those microgrid customers.

One mitigation measure would be to segment the electric grid into cells, each of which can operate in an island mode, without neighboring cells operating. The technical aspects of isolating cells are simply but cost money.

Downtown Honolulu and Waikiki could be islanded but the cells would have very high demand and extremely limited supply. The existing back-up generators, rooftop solar, and storage are extremely small compared to what is needed.

The real problem on O`ahu is the location of supply and demand. Most electric generation exists at Kahe, followed by Campbell Industrial Park and Pearl City. Those cells could remain functioning. These facilities are far from major demand centers.

Microgrid projects are being considered, planned, and or constructed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Camp Smith, the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA), the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Parker Ranch, Coconut Island, and Blue Planet.

Renewable Energy

The universe is made of matter-energy which can neither be created nor destroyed, only change forms. Renewable energy is not a scientific term but an every changing political term. Hawai`i has five major different definitions since 2001.

In terms of renewable energy penetration, if Hawai`i were its own country, the State would not rank among the top 50 countries, nor as a U.S. state does it rank among the top 15 U.S. States, with the caveat that Hawai`i is a global leader among islands without large hydroelectric and without cables to large mainland grids, and the further caveat that every country and every U.S. state has a different definition of renewable energy!

In Hawai`i, burning coal at O`ahu`s garbage-to-energy facility H-POWER counts as renewable energy, even through the facility pollutes Hawaii’s airshed and adds to the growing problem of rising greenhouse gas emissions, aka carbon emissions. Covanta, the owner of the facility, asserts that one-third of the power generated from the facility comes from fossil fuel byproducts, and by law that all counts as renewable energy, 

Renewable Energy Penetration

Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is the Hawai`i legally defined metric for measuring the amount of renewable energy on electric grids. (HRS §269-91

Hawaiian Electric Company stated that if electricity on the grid is 35 percent renewable and 65 percent fossil fuel, and that rooftop solar produces electricity equal to 80 percent of what is sold by the utility, then the RPS is 115 percent.

The above analysis was provided by HECO on June 15, 2015, in responding to a Life of the Land question during the NextEra merger proceeding.

The state goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 can be achieved when the 80,000 rooftop systems in Hawai`i produce the same amount of electricity as grid-based fossil fuel plants.

When the amount of electricity produced by rooftop solar exceeds the amount of electricity produced by fossil fuel power plants connected to the grid, the renewable energy penetration level exceeds 100 percent. A state RPS formula now, 10 years later is hotly debated,

Personal Choices

Western nations are outsourcing carbon emissions, exporting polluting industries, buying back the products, remaining consumers of greenhouse gas emissions while blaming others for rising emissions.  The World Bank put it this way: “While the production-based emissions of the early industrialized countries has begun to decrease, their consumption-based emissions have continued to grow, with the gap between the two becoming increasingly significant.”

As global consumers, we can take responsibility for our contribution to global warming and the greenhouse emissions driving human-caused climate changes.  As individuals, we can consciously choose to reduce our emissions by our lifestyle and the products we purchase and consume.


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TMT Construction – Mauna Kea Controversy Bulldozes the Law

The Thirty-Meter Telescope decision –

Whatever views anyone may have on astronomy or Hawaiian culture on the Big Island, everyone should understand the importance of the Thirty-Meter Telescope legal decision and its application of Hawai‘i state law.  While the recent decision by the Hawai‘i Supreme Court affirming the state conservation land use permit for the Thirty-Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea made big headlines, very few noticed a small but important moment of legal drama that occurred during the several weeks afterward. Tmt Protest

When the Mauna Kea protectors moved for reconsideration of the Court’s decision, Earthjustice, on behalf of Hawaiian cultural practitioner group Kua‘āina Ulu ‘Auamo, and Collette Machado and Dan Ahuna (the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs), filed a supporting “amicus curiae” (friend of the court) brief, urging the Court to correct critical mistakes in its majority opinion that undercut established legal protections of environmental and Native Hawaiian rights.

The Court’s opinion inserted two footnotes that dropped legal bombshells:

  • First, suggesting that Native Hawaiians must bear the burden to prove their rights, exactly opposite to settled precedent that developers and agencies bear the burden to justify any harm to Native Hawaiian rights; and second,
  • endorsing a false and offensive distinction between “contemporary” (read: fake) and “traditional” (read: real) Hawaiian practices.

The opinion further included language suggesting that agencies could limit their analysis of impacts to just the specific project footprint, while disregarding broader harms.  Finally, the opinion offered a cursory analysis of the public trust doctrine, a bedrock constitutional principle that protects all natural resources for present and future generations.   Instead of following the precedent in the landmark Waiāhole case, the Court majority applied its own diluted interpretation suggesting, for example, that community benefit payments could fulfill the public trust.

Earthjustice was not previously involved in the Mauna Kea case, but we were convinced that something needed to be done to mitigate the worst damage from this ruling.  Joining Earthjustice in the brief as co-counsel were former Hawai‘i Supreme Court Justice Robert Klein, who authored several seminal opinions on Native Hawaiian rights, including the Kohanaiki “PASH” case, and Professor Melody MacKenzie, lead author of the Native Hawaiian Law Treatise.

On the deadline for the Court’s response, the justices issued a run of orders specifying changes to its opinions.

The majority deleted the two problematic footnotes.  It also added a footnote clarifying that the agency analysis of impacts is not limited to the project footprint.  While this may seem like much ado about some footnotes, legal practitioners appreciate that when the Court issues its decision, the cement is basically poured, and the Court does not make changes unless a real mistake needs to be corrected.  The language the Court deleted would have plagued the law of environmental and Native Hawaiian rights for years, and we were fortunate to have dodged those bullets.

Fundamental problems with the Court’s ruling remain

For example, the Court majority did not change its flawed analysis of the public trust.  Based on this and other laws, the Court, at minimum, should have sent the case back to the state land board to correct basic legal errors, but the Court instead undermined the law.  Those problems are left for another battle, another day.

The book on this particular legal episode of the TMT controversy is now closed.  But as an esteemed Native Hawaiian professor said at a recent demonstration, “This is just the beginning.”

Again, whatever opinion one may have on the TMT controversy, everyone should contemplate the timeless saying by the famous legal scholar Felix Cohen, analogizing the treatment of Native peoples under the law to the miner’s canary, which “marks the shift of fresh air to poison gas in our political atmosphere; and . . . reflects the rise and fall of our democratic faith.”

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Hawai`i Legislative and PUC Reforms Needed to Correct Power Plant Pollution, Climate & Community Impacts

The controversy surrounding the proposed Hu Honua biomass-to-electricity power plant in Pepeekeo and at the former site of Hilo Coast’s coal-fired electricity power plant could result in new laws linking power plants to their environmental, climate, and social consequences.

The first issue to be decided is which law should be changed?

Dirty Power Plant EmissionsThere are two ways of determining what should trigger an environmental review in the establishment of a new or fundamental changes to an exiting power generation facility.  One is bottom-up, by specifically identifying project types. The second is top down, to include everything and then remove project types that have small impacts. Hawai`i uses a mix of the two types and applies them sometimes in odd ways.   In addition, the application of laws is not always equitable.

The environmental review process, HRS 343, is required for any project that uses “state or county lands or the use of state or county funds,” or is in the conservation district, shoreline management area, or Waikiki. By contrast, a helipad only triggers an environmental review if the helicopter flies over specific types of land. A wastewater treatment unit requires an environmental review if serves 50 small houses but not 49 mansions.

The environmental review process was not required for projects built with private money on agriculturally-zoned land. The naphtha-burning fossil fuel-powered generation station in Honoka`a escaped review. The law was modified so that if it were built today, it would require environmental review.   But a larger facility built with private money on agriculturally-zoned land such as Hu Honua still does not trigger environmental review.

The PUC application and permission to process governing the Hu Honua biomass (burn trees for electricity) is an example of what’s wrong with the state’s current processes governing the permitting process of power generation facilities and fulfilling Hawaii’s goal to a clean energy economy by 2045.  Reforming the current permit review process can take several forms, but future reforms must fully consider the need for an environmental review.  This reform of the current review process would include environmental, climate, and social consequences, and would have one of several triggers: all large power plants, all power plants with injection wells, all power plants that have large greenhouse gas emissions, all power plants that burn trees, all coastal infrastructure facilities, etc.

Contrary to some people`s public belief, we do not have uniform federal laws. Federal appeal courts can interpret federal law in different ways, and until the Supreme Court speaks, the states within each federal appeals court jurisdiction have to follow the relevant interpretation.

The Clean Water Act requires permits for discharging pollution, including heat, into the ocean. Some appeals courts assert that the pipe must go into the ocean in order to trigger regulations. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals asserts that if a conduit between the pipe and the ocean exists, that is sufficient.  This legal interpretation of the Clean Water Act could have local implications, as exemplified by Hu Honua plant operations which has already discharged contaminated water into the area reef system and ocean, as acknowledge by DoH.

Maui County is challenging that interpretation. Having lost in federal court and the appeals court, the county has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. The county has spent nearly twice as much money on the appeal than it needed to come into compliance.

State law could be passed that imposing state regulations of all ocean conduits.

The definition of renewable energy used by the Public Utilities Commission has drastically changed several times since the Legislature first defined it in 2001.

The Legislature could assert that biomass generators which burn trash, trees and other combustible materials for power do not qualify as legitimate energy sources for power generation due to their smokestack emissions contributing to global warming and as a source of local area air pollution.  A reform bill addressing this loophole in the current RPS 2045 law was introduced in House in 2016, but failed to clear its committee for consideration by the legislature.  Any reform legislation would have to pass the State Legislature.

In general, in broad stereotypical terms, multi-issue groups know that any given legislator will support some of their bills, oppose others, and be indifferent to still others. The art of persuasion occurs.

In general, in broad terms, some stereotypical single-issue groups get frustrated, especially when legislators prefer to sort things out behind closed doors. This can lead to an advocacy group taking a no-prisoners approach, which universally fails. Some single-issue groups making it personal and aggressively attack people, stressing a vinegar instead of honey approach, which often backfires in big ways, and poisons the well for years to come.

The State Legislature`s 2019 session opens on January 16th. The seven chairs of energy, environment, and transportation are:

  • Nicole Lowen, House Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection       
  • Mike Gabbard, Senate Committee on Agriculture and Environment
  • Glenn Wakai, Senate Committee on Energy, Economic Development, and Tourism
  • Roy Takumi, House Committee on Consumer Protection & Commerce
  • Rosalyn Baker, Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health
  • Henry Aquino, House Committee on Transportation
  • Lorraine Inouye,  Senate Committee on Transportation

Two Big island and knowledgeable state legislators on energy policy are Senator Lorraine Inouye and Representative Nicole Lowen.

Senator Inouye is Senate Majority Whip and Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation. She sits on the Hawai`i Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission, is a champion for energy storage tax credits, was chair of the Senate Energy Committee, and completed the University of Idaho`s Legislative Energy Horizon Institute’s (LEHI) course in energy policy, a 60-hour energy immersion executive course with the University of Idaho.

Representative Nicole Lowen is House Majority Whip and Chair of the House Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection. Lowen served as a Legislative Liaison for the University of Hawaii Environmental Center, as a Policy Researcher, for the University of Hawaii Department of Urban and Regional Planning, and as an Executive Committee Member of the Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter.

Now is the time to determine which approach to take. One can either write a detailed bill or submit an outline to a Legislator. In either case, the proposed language will be reviewed by legislative analysts to put in into the correct legal structure.

Seeking to persuade Legislators is far more likely to succeed than attacking them.


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PUC 2018 Submission — Hawaii’s Electrification of Transportation

Public Utilities Commission of the State of Hawaii

Honolulu, HI 96813


Docket No. 2018-0135   –   Electrification of Transportation


Dear Commissioners:

Hawaiian Electric (HEI) faces unique challenges when it comes to cost effectively developing and/or supporting an EV charging infrastructure within the utility’s multi-island service territories, and at the same time address a diverse set of transportation EV powering requirements – a challenge that is multiplied by the number of islands, different population densities, island-specific geography, social, and economic diversity.

For example, Oahu, with its 1.1 million densely packed population within 600 sq. miles, and nearly 900,000 registered vehicles, presents a very different EV infrastructure challenge and opportunity compared to Hawai’i Island’s 220,000 residents who are spread over 4,028 sq. miles – an area representing almost 63% of the entire state’s land mass, and with slightly less than 200,000 registered vehicles.  These differences represent more than just a challenge of scale to HEI in any attempt to successful implement the company’s “Electrification of Transportation” (EoT) roadmap and business strategy.

Range Anxiety

Fast, slow, scheduled and unscheduled, compatible and incompatible, available and mostly unavailable, members only or open to anyone with a charge card, Hawaii’s EV drivers face these decisions daily that define the current EV charging landscape. These charging access obstacles historically have constrained the market growth of EV’s in Hawai’i and provided some confusion for newly initiated EV owners.

When electric vehicles entered the market nearly a decade ago, most manufactures (except Tesla) offered vehicles with very limited range, generally, less than 90 miles range.  In the last few years, EV range limitations have begun to evaporate; going from under 100 miles to 200 plus miles, and more recently 300 plus miles driving range between charges.  Longer range EVs now entering the market represent a paradigm shift away from past EV assumptions and driver charging options and habits.

All this raises an important question, with battery price and performance efficiency improving exponentially; does Hawai’i need an EV charging station on every corner?   The HEI EoT roadmap strategy appears weighted on historic assumptions and past EV driver behavior patterns – a mistake.

Historically, EV drivers with short-range battery powered vehicles have been forced to top-off with frequent charging to overcome perceived or real driving range anxiety and the absence of charging options, yet what percentage of Hawaii’s internal combustion engine (ICE) drivers stop off at their neighborhood gas station daily just to top off their fuel tank?   Over the next five years, EV passenger cars, SUV’s, pick-ups, and commercial trucks will feature 500-600 plus miles driving ranges and on a single charge.  In building out Hawaii’s EV charging infrastructure, the stakeholder planning process should fully consider that many future EV drivers will follow the same charging pattern they now engage in with their ICE vehicles, but instead of visiting a gas station weekly to fuel up, these EV drivers will be fast charging their vehicles once a week, and at places much more convenient than area gas stations, e.g. at home or work.

VHS Versus Beta – Speed Versus Scheduling

At the moment, Tesla and carmakers in Japan and Germany use different plugs and communication protocols to link batteries to chargers, but firms building the charging networks require electric vehicle manufacturers and utilities to limit the number of plug and charging formats needed in order to keep costs down and enable large scale deployment of vehicle charging stations.

Currently, and for the near future, EV’s will support (across vehicle manufacturers) two common charging methods; 1) Level 1 standard, 120V wall plug outlet (slowest charging method), and the faster Level 2 public charging station protocol now widely available (twice as fast as Level 1).

For the average daily EV driver or commuter, access to a Level 2 charging station at their place of residence or office is sufficient to meet daily transportation needs. By example, an overnight with an in-residence L-2 charging station will fully recharge an EV with 90 KW battery and delivering to the driver a 250-300 plus mile driving range – much more range than is needed for nearly all daily needs on any of Hawaii’s islands.

The public is already engaged in overnight charging of their phones and other devices; plugging in their EV overnight at home or during the day at work is no different in terms of an acquired habit.

Tesla’s fast Super Charger network in the US, Europe, and Asia is currently the gold standard for fast charging and for wide scale network implementation across multiple countries.  While sticking with developing its own proprietary network for now, Tesla is a member of the CHAdeMO and CharIN initiatives. It is also selling adapters so owners of its cars in North America and Japan can use CHAdeMO (Level 3) charging stations.    Most current CHAdeMO chargers offer charge speeds of 40 – 60 kW, which is fast enough to charge a Nissan LEAF to 80 percent in about a half hour.

The fastest DC stations now deliver up to 400 kilowatts and can fully recharge long range EVs within 10 minutes, a vast improvement over Level 2 AC charging stations common today.  However, faster and really fast EV charging is no longer the exclusive domain of government regulators, and left to the marketplace where different and competing manufacturer priorities are battling for market definition and dominance, in effect competing not through EV innovation and advanced technology, but over EV plug types and charging formats.

Faster and shorter charging times will continue to improve, however, technology limitations and competitive interests among the stakeholders have so far constrained opportunities for a standardized very fast charging solution available across multiple vehicle platforms.  Until the marketplace settles on an universal and very fast charging standard, by extension, the fulfillment and promise of V2G vehicle power sharing, load balancing, on-demand power prioritization between EV’s and the grid will remain mostly limited to EV vehicle fleet operations, and not available to the general public.

Transformation or Adoption

The biggest growth opportunity for electric utilities in the 21st century continues to be the transformation and electrification of transportation, not only here in Hawai’i, but around the world.

All efforts undertaken by HEI to interface and otherwise co-develop with third parties within the EV market and technology sectors, including vehicle manufacturing leaders, e.g., Tesla, BMW, GM, Nissan, and others, along with charging station vendors and software companies and in the fulfillment of the company’s EoT strategy, should be encouraged.

Potential stakeholders, and the public is the major stakeholder in this case, should also be encouraged and enabled by the PUC to fully participate in Hawaii’s emerging clean energy economy and EV transformation.  As for business and technology sharing efforts between HEI and other third parties companies, this activity should be not be subsidized by HEI ratepayers, as this activity would be principally designed to serve HEI’s business development interests, rather than its regulated power provisioning activities.

The EoT strategy outlined in the HEI submission to the PUC fails in its assumption that time-of-use charging by EV owners will be weighted towards and a preference for, daytime charging that especially  benefits HEI during peak solar generation periods. The primarily beneficiary of day-timed charging will be HEI profits and operations, not necessarily the EV driving public.

HEI EoT roadmap submission does not address the current deficiencies within the PUC’s Distributed Energy Resources docket 2014-0192, nor the obstacles the subject docket and companion rulemaking dockets represents in the form of barriers entry in the advancement of distributed roof top solar and storage. This is specifically true for Hawaii’s large and multi-island installed base of NEM solar power producers – many whom already are or will be future EV owners.  For further elaboration on this point, please see our comments submitted to the PUC and dated April 8, 2018, re docket 2014-0192.

HEI further fails to address the basis for its EoT key assumption, “…Little is wasted because ground transportation and energy use are linked to optimize daytime charging and to use EVs as a key grid service resource”.  As this certainly is possible, it’s a stretch to assume the general EV driving public will fully accommodate HEI’s daytime charging expectations, while at the same time the HEI roadmap fails to recognize the realities of human behavior, charging convenience, and charging costs to EV owners.

For many EV owners, home charging overnight and while you’re asleep could not be more convenient. In the case of HEI customers under a NEM contract and not bound by TOU (time-of-use) restrictions, it is not only convenient, but a cost effective vehicle charging strategy.  Every link in the power supply chain, from grid-to-vehicle, adds cost, and the more links in that supply chain, the higher the charging cost to EV owners.

Without subsidization of EV charging stations and lower power costs passed onto the end EV consumer, the necessary EV owner charging behavior assumed by HEI and needed to optimize their day charging assumptions seems doubtful.  Even if EV charging station power rates were subsidized to encourage large scale TOU participation with HEI’s daytime charging model for optimizing its grid operations, who will pay for this subsidy of EV power rates?

Is the public to be held hostage over future issuance of utility roof top solar permits if HEI’s plan fails in its EoT plan assumptions?  Instead, HEI should be adopting utility scale solar and battery storage that will address and scale to peak solar production output opportunities in meeting the company’s 2045 RPS clean power source obligations – and begin that change now by looking no further than to Kauai’s successfully KIUC utility-scale deployment of clean energy options coupled to battery storage.

Many of the questions raised in this submission to the Commission can be addressed by opening up the regulated portions of Hawaii’s power market to distributed and emissions-free (2045 RPS compliant) individual clean power producers; primarily defined as Hawaii’s roof top solar power producers and customers of HEI, as well as future EV owners.

A major shift in HEI’s operating / revenue model from power producer to grid and power manager is long overdue and necessary to fully enable Hawaii’s EV transportation options.   So far, the Hawaii’s PUC has only made tentative steps towards needed reform, and the PUC’s late, but welcome, regulatory acknowledgment and opening role for micro grids in Hawai’i will further advance the state’s clean energy economy and the development of a diversified EV charging infrastructure designed to serve the public.    The public and HEI can be effective partners in Hawaii’s personal and commercial electrification of transportation – a transformation already underway, and one that is occurring regardless of the degree of financial benefit to HEI.

For HEI to fulfill its lofty 2045 vision statement within its EoT roadmap, HEI and the state of Hawai’i must address the realities of driver behavior coupled to the power of convenience, and the cost of power to consumers who can choose how to power their homes and businesses, and soon their vehicles as well.

Thank you for your consideration of these comments.




Bill Bugbee

BeyondKONA, LLC.


Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i  96740

Shell Euro Ev Charging Station



High Cost Of Water

Hawaii County’s High Cost for Water and Power

Electric utilities face many challenges today. Hawaii Electric, and utility operating unit Hawai’i Island (HELCO) continue their primary fuel source reliance on unsustainable fossil fuels to produce power for their grid customers, and Hawai’i Island’s water utility, DWS is HELCO’s number one customer and largest power consumer. But as renewable and distributed power generation sources like solar and wind come online, former residential and business power consumers become clean power producers with multiple benefits to society – and by extension to HELCO.  The choice between imported, dirty power versus locally produce zero emissions clean power is obvious to everyone, except those with a vested interest in the status quo. Utilities with little accountability to energy costs (which are passed onto customers) have little incentive for advancing clean energy options and the social, economic, and environmental benefits they yield.   Read more

Trash Deposal

Recycle, compose, or incinerate: Hawaii’s trash future

Hawaii County’s (Big Island) efforts to address a growing problem of what to do with its municipal solid waste started off with grand goals and public pronouncements of “recycle and reuse”, but the “Maximize Waste Reduction, Sustainability, also included Energy Production as a caveat ” With energy introduced as element of the RFP, all other sustainable waste management goals were quickly pushed aside in which all roads led to incineration. Read more