Hu Honua Plant 1

Hu Honua: Fourteen Facts You Should Know; and more

Hawaii’s Public Utility Commission is scheduled to render a decision on Hu Honua before June 30th, a decision that will likely set the course for this now idle power plant’s unsustainable and uneconomic future.

BeyondKona has provided our readers in depth coverage and expert analysis on Hu Honua; spanning three years and 17 articles (available through a site search: “Hu Honua”).  This idle, highly subsidized, and certainly controversial biomass powerplant is located in Pepeekeo, Hawaii Island.

We are fortunate to have one of our island’s community elders, Tawn Keeney MD, a notable physician and who has served his community of Honokaa for over 36 years,  share with BeyondKona and its readers his research and insights into Hu Honua: Fourteen Facts You Should Know, and more... one the most important and locally divisive issues in Hawaii Island’s recent energy history.

Hu Honua is a ‘Bioenergy’ facility, almost built, in Pepeekeo built to burn chipped whole green trees and in turn generate electricity.  Those trees are the Eucalyptus plantation in Hamakua owned by Kamehameha Schools, Parker Ranch, and the State and County managed forests in upper Waiakea and Pahala.

In the Hu Honua Power Purchase Agreement testimony before the PUC, September 2021, Hawaii’s Consumer Advocate, representing the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, concluded (see excerpts) the following, “…approval of the (Hu Honua) A&R PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) does not seem reasonable or in the public interest at this time.”  and  “Otherwise, without additional justification, there are GHG emissions, environmental, health, and customer impact concerns that do not support a favorable ruling by the Commission”.

The PUC process to date has illuminated the issues and conclusions specific to Hu Honua:

1.  Burning wood (green trees) for generation of electricity is climate and environmentally destructive.

2.  The cost of electricity to the Hawaii Island ratepayer will increase significantly if Hu Honua is authorized to sell electricity to Hawaiian Electric.

3.  Authorization of Hu Honua will not add to Hawaii’s energy security or self sufficiency as after the initial timber 7 year harvest cycle, the great majority of the wood supply will be imported from Asia or the American continent — trading one of Hawaii’s imported energy fuel production dependencies for another.

4.  Bioenergy (burning green forests for electricity) is scientifically discredited and such energy stations will close due to governmental withdrawal of subsidies and support as the climate crisis overtakes the convenience of considering burning trees for ENERGY desirable.

What you need to know about Hu Honua

Fact #1 GHG Emissions:   Contrary to Hu Honua’s advertising, this facility’s energy is not ‘clean’.  Hu Honua’s Clean Air Permit from the State Department of Health designates that the facility will emit 293,000 tons of Greenhouse Gas per year.  This is approaching 1000 tons GHG per day.


Fact #2 Fuel Inefficiencies –  It is well known that burning chipped or pelletized green trees as fuel for generating electricity releases 1.5x more greenhouse gas than burning coal for each KWh of electricity produced.  The IPCC Greenhouse Gas Inventory (2006) identifies 1.25x greater GHG ‘in the smokestack’ emissions burning wood than coal (the dirtiest of all conventional fossil fuels) The ‘efficiency’ of burning wood is 26% and the efficiency of coal is 33% in generating electricity, thus calculating the 1.5x factor.

<Global Change Biology: Bioenergy 2017 Volume 9 page 361 >


Fact #3 Dirty Fuel – Burning wood for electricity releases 1.5x more Greenhouse Gas than burning Coal, 2.2x more GHG than burning oil, and 3x more GHG than burning natural gas, per kilowatt hour of electricity generated.

The Greenhouse Gas Analysis presented to the PUC by Hu Honua in 2019 calculates  their GHG emissions to be 1.95 tons CO2(e) per KWh electricity generated, compared with 0.91 tons for the fossil fuel stations they would be replacing, or more than twice the level of GHG emissions and pollutants Hu Honua was intended to replace in Hawaii Island fossil fuel power sources.


Fact #4 Trees, Not Sustainable – Hu Honua has proposed that regrowth of the trees that it has harvested will eventually re-sequester the Carbon released into the atmosphere and thereby achieve carbon neutrality.  Contemporary research (8 minute Youtube video) suggests that, following clear cut harvest of forested lands (the harvest method that would be employed by Hu Honua), in addition to the emissions of burning the trees, those harvested lands will continue to be a net emitter of CO2 into the atmosphere, resulting from release of stored soil carbon, for as long as 20 years.  Hu Honua proposes a 7 year re-harvest cycle.

In a Star Advertiser editorial, Hu Honua’s forestry contractor argued that the stumps will regrow trees as coppice and soil carbon will be preserved.  However, Kamehameha Schools, owning the majority of Hu Honua’s trees has publicly stated they will not regrow their forests.  No public commitment has been made by Parker Ranch to regrow its trees.


Fact #5  Emissions Impacts, not Rewards – The Government of Canada’s website < Bioenergy Greenhouse Gas Calculator > is the only internet site found which calculates the accumulated greenhouse gas over time from burning green trees for power in relation to burning coal, oil and natural gas.  It factors into its results the re-sequestration of CO2 from regrowth of harvested trees or planting new trees.

Hu Honua Vs. CoalThe Canadian government website allows designation of speed of growth of the trees and the distance of transport of harvested trees to the power generating facility. Factoring ‘fast growing trees’ and 50 kilometers (30 miles) average transport (Pahala, Waiakea Mauka and Waipio rim to Pepe’ekeo) this Calculator shows that, for Hu Honua, the accumulated Greenhouse gas from burning trees for power (including the sequestration from regrowth of trees) will be greater than burning Coal for at least 70 years (best case scenario).


 Fact #6 EPA on Trees for Power – Twice (in 2012 and 2019) the EPA has asked its Science Advisory Board for endorsement of its bioenergy GHG neutrality policy. The SAB on both occasions refused the request, stating the “feedstock and timeframe for carbon neutrality must be specified”. Burning harvested invasive species or wood waste from industrial processes would be carbon neutral, as otherwise the wood would decompose.

Hu Honua will be clear cutting whole Big Island green forests in an unsustainable mission to  burn trees for power. Burning green trees could, over a time frame of several decades to a century or more, be carbon neutral depending on the time to regenerate the woody mass, plus harvest and transport emissions.

Though it is not official policy, references have suggested that EPA’s timeframe reference for carbon neutrality of bioenergy is one typical life-cycle of forest trees, or approximately one hundred years. In respect to the current Climate Crisis, this timeframe reference is inappropriate.


Fact #7Not Carbon or Renewable – In order to call Bioenergy ‘renewable’ or ‘carbon neutral’ federal statute and EPA directive requires that any forest harvested for that purpose must be regrown.  It does not allow that forest can be grown someplace else, or other forested lands can be purchased to compensate for harvested forest.  Kamehameha Schools has publicly stated that the 12,000 acres of forests on their lands will not be regrown.

Thus, Hu Honua should stop calling it’s bioenergy ‘renewable’ or ‘carbon neutral’. As quoted in Pacific Business news, Warren Lee, President and CEO of Hu Honua seems to acknowledge that Hu Honua should not be considered as sourcing renewable energy.  “The plant’s purpose was to replace fossil fuel generation, not renewable energy.”, Lee recently told PBN, noting that it is not an either/or situation and both bioenergy and renewables can each play a part in diversifying the state’s overall energy portfolio mix.”


Fact #8:  Local Tree Sources Unsustainable – Kamehameha Schools, Hu Honua’s largest source of trees, will not regrow trees after the initial harvest, the first of 7-year harvest cycles for the 30 year contract.  No public commitment has been made to regrowth from Parker Ranch, the other large source.  No other large scale Hawaiian Islands fuel source has been identified.

DLNR has stated they will plant or ‘protect’ 100 million trees by 2030 for carbon sequestration or environmental restoration.  They will not allow harvest.  Hu Honua’s wood will come as pellets from the Americas or Asia.   ‘Bioenergy’ will not contribute to Hawaii’s ‘energy self-sufficiency’ or security.  A forest industry will not emerge.


Fact #9 Ratepayers Get A Raw Deal –  Hu Honua has designated that it will sell electricity to Hawaiian Electric at $0.22 per KWh, increasing gradually to above $0.30 per KWh over the 30 year contract.  Hawaii Island’s planned and already begun large solar (with storage) installations will sell their power to Hawaiian Electric at $0.08 per KWh, approximately one third of what Hu Honua will charge.  As a result of Hu Honua, the Hawaii Island ratepayer will pay more for their electricity.


Fact #10Hawaii’s Consumer Advocate Agrees – The Consumer Advocate, representing the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, testified to the PUC in September 2021 that over the 30 year life of the Hu Honua project, 58% of the electricity generation at Hu Honua would replace zero-emission renewable sources (wind, solar or geothermal) and 42% would be fossil fuels.


Fact #11Polluting Supply Chain – Hu Honua will send 5 to 6 logging trucks per hour each way from Hamakua to Pepe’ekeo or from Pahala and Waiakea through Hilo to Pepe’ekeo. That is approximately one truck (approaching 40 tons) will be sent every 11 minutes for burning trees (a truck, loaded or empty, will pass an observer every 5 to 6  minutes).  Traffic problems, road and bridge deterioration, and probably accidents will arise.


Fact #12:  Water Wasted or Waste Water – Hu Honua’s engineering designated that 21 million gallons per day of cooling water would be withdrawn from Hakalau Aquifer, heated to 88 degrees F, various chemicals added (primarily 45 gallons per day of descaling agent) and re-injected into the aquifer 90 ft. from the shoreline, and that transit to the ocean would take 50 days.  This calculates to 1 billion gallons (15,000 Olympic swimming pools) of heated contaminated water in the aquifer at steady state.

Because of failure of the injection wells to perform as anticipated, the depth of the wells was increased from 400 to 800 ft.

At that time the Department of Water Supply wrote a letter to the Health Department Safe Drinking Water Branch stating, “The Department of Water Supply (DWS) has concerns with respect to the Pumping and UIC permits that would allow Hu Honua to proceed with large scale (21.6 Million Gallons per day) pumping of groundwater and reinjection of that water back into the groundwater with select chemicals near DWS’ potable groundwater wells.” “DWS requests that Hu Honua be required to provide, at their expense:  1)  Groundwater modeling that includes DWS’ Pepe’ekeo groundwater sources.  2)  A determination that Hu Honua’s pumping and UIC process will not have adverse impacts on the quantity and quality of DWS’ nearby sources.  3)  A Monitoring plan for tracking water level and detecting select contaminants at DWS’ nearby sources.”  A subsequent letter reiterated those concerns and broadened stipulations.

Though Hu Honua has deepened their wells, first to 800 ft. and now to 1200 ft, no public presentation of engineering plans or the above requested modeling have been made available to the public.  Still 21 million gpd (equivalent to the basal outflow of Waipio Valley) will be pumped and heated through this facility and re-injected. The above stipulations from DWS  must be enforced and made public. The Maui Wastewater US Supreme Court ruling demands that an NPDES study be performed to ensure no deterioration of the nearshore marine environment.


Fact #13Trading Trees-for-Power Fails Original Expectations – The current drift in biomass policy and media discussions suggests, because of the reasons pointed out by the 500 scientists, that within the next several years all subsidies and RPS considerations of biomass as carbon neutral will be withdrawn.

From National Geographic, November, 2021, we find the following statement under the Tagline:  “As world leaders pledge more action on climate change, one so-called solution—burning trees for electricity—could undermine progress.”  That statement:  “In the European Union’s “Fit for 55” framework for reducing emissions by 55 percent by 2030, biomass energy is still labeled as carbon neutral. But in a report published in 2018, the U.K.’s (the world’s largest per capita user of bioenergy) Committee on Climate Change said biomass energy should be limited. The country has contracts extending subsidies through 2027, but when they end, the committee discouraged further use.”

The unfolding realities of the climate crisis will overtake the convenient economic considerations of bioenergy as Greenhouse Gas neutral.  Subsidies will be withdrawn.  This will lead to closure of most, if not all, bioenergy stations.


Fact #14:  A Community United in its Opposition to Hu Honua – The following public organizations are in opposition to Hawaii’s first proposed Bioenergy (green tree burning) facility, Hu Honua.

In stated opposition are

  • Sierra Club (Hawaii Chapter), Sierra Club (Moku Loa Group),
  • Surfrider Foundation, Olohana Foundation,
  • Partnership for Policy Integrity,
  • Pepeekeo Fisherman’s Association,
  • North Hawaii Action Network,
  • Na Kupuna O Moku O Keawe,
  • Life of the Land,
  • 350Hawaii,
  • Hawaii Island Citizen’s Climate Lobby,
  • Hui Aloha Aina,
  • Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action,
  • Hawaiian Cultural Center of Hamakua, Environmental Caucus (Democratic Party of Hawaii),
  • Climate Reality Project,
  • Hawaii’s Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Division of Consumer Advocacy (‘Consumer Advocate’),
  • the Democratic Party of Hawaii and more.

In May, 2018 the State Democratic Party overwhelmingly passed Resolution ENV: 2018-08: “Resolved, That The Democratic Party of Hawai’i urges the Public Utilities Commission, all elected and appointed officials of the State of Hawai’i and its various counties to withdraw support for Hu Honua Bioenergy, and any successors, which will have irreversible and deleterious consequences for the state’s coastal waters and the planet’s atmosphere;”

After years of litigation, public testimony and lawsuits… it isn’t over yet…

The Hu Honua story has been a long and winding road and exemplified by propositions, applications, questionable agreements, and certainly accompanied by a contentious multi-year history of lawsuits and hearings before Hawaii’s PUC and the state’s court system.

Life of Land’s recent intervenor submission before the PUC summed up Hu Honua’s application-to-proceed this way:

“The long and litigious history of the Hu Honua project is characterized by the competing interests of a mysterious and powerful corporate entity and those of the ratepayers and people of Hawai‘i. On one hand, Hu Honua is seeking to force through the approval of an expensive power-purchase agreement (“PPA”) for a 19th century-era wood-burning technology that will deplete and pollute Hawai‘i’s natural resources and increase the cost of electricity for the people of Hawai‘i Island, all in the name of corporate profits.

On the other hand, the HELCO ratepayers and the public interest of the people of Hawai‘i are being protected by a robust framework of environmental laws and the reasoned analysis of the Hawai‘i Public Utilities Commission. As Hawai‘i (and the world) confront the escalating climate emergency, these laws, and the agencies and entities that wield them, represent the main arbiter tasked with balancing the complex and often competing needs that constitute the “public interest.”  

We live at a time when there is no room for compromise in our fight to preserve our environment and our species.  Climate Change has become ‘Code Red’.  It is the judgment of science, our environmentalists and, slowly, leadership that burning green trees for generation of electricity is climate and environmentally destructive.

The problems of burning trees-for-power are not confined to Hawaii

The following are excerpts from a letter signed by 500 expert scientists in Feb. 2021 to leaders of the US, EU, Japan and Korea regarding Bioenergy:  See letter here.

(Please access the above link to see this entire letter and the impressive credentials of the signatories,  which includes a former chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, US National medal of Science winner, President of the European Academies of Science, Lead author of 5 IPCC technical reports on bioenergy, etc.)

“The undersigned scientists and economists commend each of you for the ambitious goals you have announced for the United States, the European Union, Japan and South Korea to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Forest preservation and restoration should be key tools for achieving this goal and simultaneously helping to address our global biodiversity crisis. We urge you not to undermine both climate goals and the world’s biodiversity by shifting from burning fossil fuels to burning trees to generate energy.”

“In recent years, there has been a misguided move to cut down whole trees or to divert large portions of stem wood for bioenergy, releasing carbon that would otherwise stay locked up in forests.”

“The result of this additional wood harvest is a large initial increase in carbon emissions ….  As numerous studies have shown, this burning of wood will increase warming for decades to centuries. That is true even when the wood replaces coal, oil or natural gas.”

“Overall, for each kilowatt hour of heat or electricity produced, using wood initially is likely to add two to three times as much carbon to the air as using fossil fuels.”

“Government subsidies for burning wood create a double climate problem because this false solution is replacing real carbon reductions.  Companies are shifting fossil energy use to wood, which increases warming, as a substitute for shifting to solar and wind, which would truly decrease warming.”


Bleached Coral

Great Barrier Reef, Widespread Bleaching; Again

“What is most concerning is that this widespread bleaching is happening during a La Niña weather event, which is normally characterised by rain and cloud cover on the east coast of Australia often helping to cool waters. It shows the consistent pressure our reef is now under from global heating.”

Dead coral found at Great Barrier Reef as widespread bleaching event unfolds

“What is most concerning is that this widespread bleaching is happening during a La Niña weather event, which is normally characterized by rain and cloud cover on the east coast of Australia often helping to cool waters. It shows the consistent pressure our reef is now under from global heating.”

Dead corals are now being recorded in aerial surveys across the Great Barrier Reef in what the marine park’s chief scientist says is a widespread and serious bleaching event on the world heritage icon.   Aerial surveys have covered half of the 2,300km reef, with the worst bleaching observed in the park’s central region off Townsville, where corals on some reefs are dead and dying.   The unfolding bleaching comes ahead of a 10-day UN monitoring mission to the reef due to start on Monday.

Sixth mass bleaching event is now unfolding on the reef, adding to events in 1998, 2002, 2016, 2017 and 2020.

Bleached CoralDr David Wachenfeld, chief scientist at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, told Guardian Australia: “There is certainly a risk we are seeing a mass bleaching event.

Aerial surveys from helicopters that started last Saturday have revealed mild to moderate bleaching driven by rising ocean temperatures on reefs in the remote far north, with the most badly hit reefs across a 250km stretch to the north and south of Townsville.

Most reefs in that central region, between Hinchinbrook Island and Bowen, were severely bleached and there were still sections of the great barrier reef marine ecosystem not yet surveyed there.

Bleaching is considered minor if less than 10% of corals on an individual reef are bleached. Levels up to 30% are categorized as moderate, up to 60% is major and beyond that, bleaching is considered severe.

“The fact that at the very least, most reefs are severely bleached – this is a very serious event. There is no question about that. Some of the observations in that region have been of coral mortality.  “That is where the heat stress has been worst. We haven’t yet surveyed all that area, but I would expect that situation of most reefs being severely bleached would go north and south of Bowen.” Aerial surveys started while the heat stress was still building across large parts of the reef. Wachenfeld said rather than wait until the heat had peaked, the flights had started because “we are starting to see coral die.”

When a coral bleaches, the transparent flesh and white skeleton are easy to see from the air. But if it dies, the flesh begins to rot and is quickly taken over by algae which is darker in color.  “You then can’t see from the air that a living coral was there a week ago,” said Wachenfeld.

In the remote north, Wachenfeld said some reefs had not recovered from a severe 2016 bleaching event. Reports this week’s flights indicated little live coral left.  “It’s a major stress event for corals even if they don’t die from it. There is no historical record of such stress events happening so frequently.  At the moment, what we see is widespread and in some parts it is severe and that is worrying. There is no doubt about it,” Dr. Britta Schaffelke, director of Great Barrier Reef research at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, said.

Richard Leck, head of oceans at WWF Australia, said bleaching was directly attributable to global heating caused by rising greenhouse gas emissions.  “Reducing Australia’s domestic and exported emissions fast, this decade, is the main solution within our control,” he said.

The environment group released analysis on Friday showing that for Australia to be part of efforts to keep global heating to 1.5C, the country should release no more than 4bn tons of CO2 between now and mid-century.

But the analysis, carried out by scientists, said the Morrison government’s current strategy to reach net zero would release 9.6bn tons.  “We’re going to blow our emissions budget by more than double,” said Leck. Greenpeace Australia climate impacts campaigner Martin Zavan said: “This latest bleaching event has once again exposed the Morrison government’s failure to protect the Great Barrier Reef, throwing billions at band-aid measures while failing to address climate change, the biggest driver of catastrophic coral damage.”

Dr Zebedee Nicholls, one of the scientists that carried out the analysis, said: “The science is clear: the outlook for coral reefs around the world is bad at 1.5C, and their fate is all but sealed at 2C.”

Kelly O’Shanassy, chief executive of the Australian Conservation Foundation, said: “If the federal government is serious about its claim of wanting to protect the Great Barrier Reef it must rapidly phase out coal, oil and gas and stop encouraging the growth of fossil fuel industries.”

What is most concerning is that this widespread bleaching is happening during a La Niña weather event, which is normally characterized by rain and cloud cover on the east coast of Australia often helping to cool waters. It shows the consistent pressure our reef is now under from global heating.


Hawaii Ocean Temp Graph

New U.N. Climate Report; time’s up

Five things you should know about the U.N. climate report released today

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change today released a sweeping report on the dangerous effects that rising global temperatures are already having — and the catastrophes that loom if humanity fails to make swift and significant cuts to planet-warming emissions.

Before spending hours poring over the more than a 3,500-page document full of devastating details, in the following you’ll discover five key take-away points and  summary findings worth your time, and understanding.

1. Some climate effects are already baked in

Humanity has pumped more than a trillion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since the late 19th century, fueling an average global temperature rise of more than 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to preindustrial levels.
Even if those emissions were to stop tomorrow, they have already set in motion some unavoidable effects across the globe.

Fish are dying in oceans that have heated up and become more acidic. Climate disasters such as supercharged wildfires, hurricanes and floods have claimed lives and ravaged communities.

Even if humanity meets the more ambitious goal of the Paris agreement — limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels — scientists project the demise of most coral reefs and the irreversible loss of glaciers and polar ice by the end of the century.

2. It’s not too late to prevent some of the potential suffering

Despite these irreversible effects, the report emphasizes that humanity still has time to act to stave off more suffering in the future.

In addition to mitigation, which involves making deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, scientists say humanity must make significant investments in adaptation, which entails coping with the consequences of a warming Earth.  For example, investments in infrastructure would reduce the damage inflicted by extreme weather. And investments in public health would prevent the spread of diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, which have flourished as the world warms and mosquitoes roam beyond their current habitats.

Scientists estimate that for every dollar spent on resilience and adaptation, countries could save at least $4 over time.

3. Warming is widening inequities between rich and poor nations

Many developing countries have released little carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, yet they are most vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis. The report makes clear that these inequities will persist as the world warms.

Even under moderate scenarios for sea-level rise, the coastlines of most Pacific Island nations would be flooded. And under the worst-case scenario for global temperature rise, Africa — which is historically responsible for less than 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions — would see a 118-fold increase in exposure to extreme heat. By contrast, heat exposure in Europe would increase only fourfold.

So far, wealthy countries have failed to fulfill their promise to provide $100 billion annually to help poor nations green their economies and adapt to climate effects. Developed nations will probably face intense pressure to deliver on this pledge at the next U.N. climate summit in Egypt in November.

4. The climate crisis is intertwined with the biodiversity crisis

Global warming is already threatening plants and animals by shifting seasonal weather patterns and intensifying habitat-destroying disasters. If global temperatures rise by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), 10 percent of all plant and animal species could face a high risk of extinction, the report says.

At 3.2 Celsius (5.8 Fahrenheit), a quarter of all salamanders could go extinct. By 4 Celsius (7.2 Fahrenheit), half of the Amazon rainforest could be lost.

5. The time to act is now

For all of the sobering statistics in the report, its overarching message is not one of hopelessness, but of urgency to act, our colleagues Brady and Sarah write.

Humanity still has a limited window to overhaul the way energy is generated, the way cities are designed and the way food is grown — changes that ultimately could save trillions of dollars and millions of lives.

“These are projections, they are not predictions,” Patrick Gonzalez, a lead author of the report and a climate scientist at the University of California at Berkeley, told our colleagues of the findings. “It’s all based on humans and our actions. The future is something we can change.”

IPCC Climate Report – Summary findings:

Even as isolated Hawaii as may be, the state cannot escape the climate change impacts reported in the IPCC report now underway.

  • Climate change has caused substantial damages, and increasingly irreversible losses, in terrestrial, freshwater and coastal and open ocean marine ecosystems (vetted report conclusion: high confidence).
  • The extent and magnitude of climate change impacts are larger than estimated in previous assessments (vetted report conclusion: high confidence).
  • Widespread deterioration of ecosystem structure and function, resilience and natural adaptive capacity, as well as shifts in seasonal timing have occurred due to climate change (vetted report conclusion: high confidence),
  • …with adverse socioeconomic consequences (vetted report conclusion: high confidence).
  • Approximately half of the species assessed globally have shifted polewards or, on land, also to higher elevations (vetted report conclusion: very high confidence).
  • Hundreds of local losses of species have been driven by increases in the magnitude of heat extremes (vetted report conclusion: high confidence),
  • …as well as mass mortality events on land and in the ocean (vetted report conclusion: very high confidence) and
  • loss of kelp forests (vetted report conclusion: high confidence).
Some of these documented losses are already irreversible, such as the first species extinctions now being driven by climate change.

Ipcc Climate Report 2022 1Ipcc Climate Report 2

Ev Charging L 1 2 3

Hawaii Prepares To Go All Electric

Hawaii’s 2022  legislative season, now in session has been marked a record number of bill submissions addressing the forthcoming electrification of personal and commercial ground transportation, as in battery electric vehicles (BEV). Equally remarkable are the number transformative bills directed at addressing climate change, renewable energy, and environmental protection.

According to then state’s leading electric vehicle group, Hawaii Electric Vehicle Association,  and there are over 43 separate House and Senate bills addressing EVs (electric vehicles), in one form or another, ranging from the state guidelines and incentives to assist the build out of a multi-island BEV public charging infrastructure to addressing equity (affordability) issues, with BEV financial incentives directed to Hawaii’s low-to-moderate income residents.

For definitive look at the BEV related bills now under Hawaii state legislative consideration visit: 

A National EV Charging Infrastructure is also Coming to Hawaii

Senator Brian Schatz’s office reported earlier this week of new Federal Funding being allocated to Hawaii in the form of $2.6 million funding grant. the money is part of $5 Billion immediate Federal funds release for the intended build out of national EV charging network.  Funding details are available on DOT’s web site:

The $5B Federal funds release represents about 2/3 of the total $7 Billion allocated to BEV charging infrastructure in the bi-partisan infrastructure bill passed last year.

For Hawaii, here some of  the high points;

1) The state has until August (this year) to submit its deployment and use of funds plan to DOT. The earlier Hawaii responds, the earlier the funds will be distributed to the state. Bev Chagring Station Types

2) The funds may only be applied to charging station build-outs on so-called designated Alternative Fuel Corridors, i.e., federal roads within the state.  All of the state’s primary populated islands have qualifying roads. In other words, state parks, shopping malls, etc. do not qualify in this initial round of Federal funding.

3) The funding is a 80/20 package, meaning private partners participating in the state’s build out plan, e.g., HECO will be required to pay 20% of their project participation costs. The balance (80%) is covered within federal funding and administered by the state.

4) Questions as to the charging speed, type of charging, and locations for deployment are yet to be determined. The state, and its private sector partners, are to submit a final funding plan by August, which is then subject to final approval by DOT, before the $2.6 million Federal is released to the state — and all of which is scheduled to occur this year.

A National EV Charging Infrastructure

  1. The new National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula (NEVI) Program was established by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden last November
  2. The U.S. Departments of Transportation and Energy also announced this week nearly $5 billion will be made available to help states create a network of EV charging stations along the Interstate Highway System and designated “alternative fuel corridors.”   Funds can be used to install and operate EV charging stations
  3. There is currently 41K BEV charging stations compared to 136K gas stations with greater fueling capacity in terms of the number of vehicles fueled at one time and time for fueling.
  4. The Federal funding goal is to develop a nationwide highway network of 500,000 EV charging stations by 2030.
  5. There are 116,000 public charging ports / 41,000 stations across the country, according to the Energy Department — mostly lower-speed “Level 2” chargers that are heavily concentrated in California. Cost estimates for installing chargers vary widely. Tesla has proposed the government cap costs at $75,000 per port, which would mean 80,000 chargers with the new federal funding and matching state dollars.
  6. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials suggested the new federal funding was an opportunity to ensure prices for charging are listed in terms of kilowatts per hour and to require that charging can be paid with credit and debit cards, rather than through an account with charging providers. (the latter is a long overdue recommendation)
  7. Various groups disagree about the proximity of chargers. A group of Western state transportation departments said the current 50-mile standard was hard to meet in rural areas. But the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents major carmakers, said the distance should be closer to offer convenience similar to filling up at a gas station.
  8. The federal government will consider a particular corridor fully built out when it has at least four 150-kilowatt charging points every 50 miles, with limited exceptions. Once states meet that goal, they can use their remaining money for other charging projects (potentially faster charging DC power options).

“People want to purchase EVs, but they worry about where and when they’ll be able to charge their car. By building EV charging stations across the state in places where people can actually use them, this new federal funding will make EVs more accessible for Hawaii families, create quieter streets, and help the State of Hawaii achieve its ambitious goals for building a clean economy,” said Hawaii’s Brian Schatz, who presently chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

Auto Dealers and Retailer Outlets Apprehensive

Analysts say higher prices at the dealership represent a conflict rather than a conversance of interests as to role of dealerships in the future of BEV sales. For legacy auto manufacturers, this is a problem only now surfacing and could very well slow expansion of the nation’s nascent BEV sector.

While climate scientists continue to present evidence as to the urgent need to eliminate carbon emissions from transportation, many traditional auto dealers see EV’s as a threat to their livelihood.

Sticker prices for hybrid and electric vehicles have fallen significantly over the past decade, but remain out of reach for the typical car buyer, and recently added pricing barriers of entry for new EV buyers is even a greater market challenge for auto dealers. Pricing premiums of $10,000 or more over MSRP for sought-after electric vehicle models, e.g., Ford’s Mustang Mach-e and F150 Lighting all electric pick-up truck, and Nissan’s forthcoming Ariya crossover are increasingly standard practice.

F-150 Lightning customers have only recently been able to convert their reservations into firm orders, while Ford has been receiving buyer complaints that certain dealerships are raising prices well above MSRP on the vehicles they ordered. Overpricing will certainly dent the reputation of the truck, Ford and its new EV offerings.

Ford and GM’s warnings to their dealer networks not to overprice their new EV models expose a tense undercurrent developing between legacy carmakers and dealers.

It’s more than a threat to business-as-usual for dealerships.  Newer and emerging electric vehicle manufacturers like Tesla, Rivian and Lucid are now sell directly to buyers, in effect, eliminating the middleman.

At the same time, legacy automakers are banking on consumers to migrate to electric vehicles even as dealers worry they may adopt a direct-sales formula for EVs, following the start-up success of Tesla, and in effect edging them out of a market that’s projected to balloon to nearly $1 trillion by 2030.

Brian Moody, executive editor at Autotrader sees things this way, “This is not because Rivian and Tesla are demanding this,” he said, “it’s because consumers are demanding choice. They’ve gotten used to buying online.”  More than three-quarters of F-150 Lightning reservation holders are new to Ford, many coming from recent buying experiences with EV start-ups that have direct-to-consumer sales.

The challenge for manufacturers is to bring their dealer networks into the 21st century

Just because legacy manufacturers are pivoting to EVs, experts say, automakers cannot simply ditch their dealer partners.

Manufacturers mostly don’t want to handle the real estate obligations of sales and service or the logistics of moving finished products. Dealers also have deep expertise in direct sales and local marketing. They know how to get customers in the door and into new cars.  Manufacturers in many cases don’t want to take on those specialties. The transformation of the century old industry remains a work in progress, and EV’s, like their zero-to-sixty performance, just sped up that process.


Pv To Ev

Republicans absent, President Biden’s Climate Plan languishes; held hostage by a one coal state democrat

Meanwhile, hundreds of billions in private investment in a clean energy economy are mostly on hold awaiting Federal action.

Hundreds of billions in private investment in a clean energy economy are mostly on hold awaiting Federal action and Democratic lawmakers to enact clean energy tax credits proposed as part of the President Biden’s Build Back Better bill. According some economists the bill’s tax credit provisions pushes the economics of many projects over the hump.

The proposed bill, backed by President Biden, would pump about $550 billion into the clean energy and climate business, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, about $311 billion of it in the form of tax credits and incentives.

“Investors are waiting in the wings to deploy capital for clean energy, with this industry poised to be the major engine of 21st-century prosperity,” said Leah Stokes, an associate professor of political science at the University of California at Santa Barbara. “Without these government incentives, that capital won’t get deployed. With them, we are poised to have a prosperous clean energy economy.”

Industry groups, as well as climate activists, have been frustrated by the delays. More than 260 clean energy companies wrote to congressional leaders in January saying that each month of delay to the Build Back Better (BBB) tax incentives costs the U.S. economy as much as $2 billion in economic activity.

The letter cited an analysis by the American Clean Power Association that found the legislation would more than double clean energy investment to $750 billion over the next 10 years creating hundreds of thousands of new and good paying American jobs, while advancing America’s transition to a clean energy economy.

The same analysis projected that the credits would cut carbon emissions from the U.S. power sector by roughly 70 percent below 2005 levels — the equivalent of powering 175 million American homes with reliable and climate resilient clean energy.

Are EV’s in Trouble if BBB fails?

On average, the cost of a new electric vehicle, whether all-electric (BEV), and even plug-in hybrids (PHEV) are higher than that of a conventional gas powered car. In the case of 100% battery-electric vehicles (BEV’s) beyond drive off costs, when combined with lifetime owner maintenance costs altogether is cheaper than owing a gas or diesel powered car or truck.  There are a number of federal & state electric car tax credits, many with complicated formulas to determine a BEV’s price tag, alos with hidden benefits of fuel savings that lower the upfront cost to potential BEV buyers, but often are apparent without first doing ones’ true cost ownership homework and looking beyond the vehicle’s price tag.
Bev Tax CreditThe President Biden’s BBB bill calls for expanding tax credits for Electric Vehicle purchases to as much as $12,500 (legacy Federal and state EV tax credits, some still in effect, offer significantly less financially benefits to BEV buyers on select qualifying models). In the meantime, Detroit and other automakers are (or preparing to) invest billions into new plants to produce EVs.  Without Federal EV purchase credits, middle and lower income buyers will have difficult with current electric vehicle price tags, slowing the transition to zero emissions, this is especially true for many of Hawaii’s residents.
This tax credit has a “phase out” built into the program that is dependent on the manufacturer of the car. The phase out will kick in at the beginning of the second calendar quarter after a manufacturer has sold 200,000 eligible BEVs and/or PHEVs. Today, most electric cars brands remain eligible for this EV tax credit, excluding Tesla and GM.  The phase out of the current EV purchase tax credit will not be occurring anytime soon, as a whole, the auto industry (other than Tesla) remains in the nascent stages of producing and selling BEV’s at scale.

BBB Passage, Democrats’ remain hopeful…

Democrats, in fact, remain optimistic that the EV and clean energy tax credits will be approved in one form or another.
Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) — whose opposition has stymied the bill — have expressed support for some of its key climate provisions, including most of the clean energy tax incentives. But Manchin has flipped flopped before on his stated bill commitments, and has also made clear this month that he does not want to approve an economic package right away and is focused on other legislative priorities.
For a large sector of American’s emerging clean energy economy, time is the enemy, both in terms of global competitiveness and global heating.
Without any Republican support in the Senate for meaningful climate solutions, Democrats’ will be forced to go it alone in what is presently an evenly politically divided Senate.  If the worse case scenario plays in the 2022 election cycle, and Republicans re-take control of the Senate, and-or possible the House, time-essential climate legislation will be once again off the table.


Climate Change Brings Record Ocean Warmth 2

Great Barrier Reef on verge of another mass bleaching, is Hawaii next?

Temperatures over the Great Barrier Reef in December (summer for Australia) were the highest on record with “alarming” levels of heat that have put this one-of kind ocean jewel on the verge of another mass bleaching of corals. Recent global climate changes represent a new normal of extremes in global air and water temperatures and weather.

According to Kyle Van Houtan, with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s oceanography research team… “Extreme climate change is here, it’s in the ocean, and the ocean underpins all life on Earth.”  More than 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases is absorbed by the ocean, which plays a critical role in maintaining a stable climate.

Record breaking high ocean temperatures hit the Great Barrier Reef marine system in what has been considered an unprecedented reef bleaching event of 2015-16. And as these southern hemisphere high ocean temperatures migrated north with seasonal changes, the summer of 2015 was offer no relief  for the northern latitudes and the  Hawaiian island chain, which experienced a summer of massive coral die-off with devastating and last results to the state’s marine coral reef systems.

Scientists analyzed sea surface temperatures over the last 150 years, which have risen because of global heating linked to rising levels of carbon emissions, primarily associated with fossil fuels. The Monterey Bay research findings determined that extreme temperatures were occurring just 2% of the time a century ago and recently have risen to more than 50% of the time across global oceans since 2014.

Coarl Sea TempsWhat does this mean for Hawaii this coming summer and the state’s marine coral reef systems?

If the global marine heating patterns of 2015-16 repeat, Hawaii can likely expect this summer’s warming to produce further coral die-off, possibly repeating the severe temperature impacts to the corals which survived the 2015 bleaching event. The surviving coral species in Hawaii’s waters represented so-called temperature-tolerant marine corals, which also have their own limits and tolerance to high ocean temperatures. Hawaii&#39;s coral reefs in fair shape but declining, report finds - West Hawaii Today

Recent science and history have taught us that temperature extremes have an outsized impact on ecosystems, including documented changes to near shore marine environments in both latitudes, and from the deep ocean environments to coral reefs, kelp, most fish species, and most other marine life.

The scientists have also examined ocean temperature records from 1920 through 2019, the most recent year available. They found that by 2014, more than 50% of the monthly records across the entire ocean had surpassed the once-in-50–years extreme heat benchmark. The researchers called the year when the percentage passed 50%, and did not fall back below it in subsequent years, the “point of no return”.

By 2019, the proportion of the global ocean suffering extreme heat was 57%. “We expect this to keep on going up,” said Van Houtan. But the extreme heat was particularly severe in some parts of the ocean, with the South Atlantic having passed the point of no return in 1998. “That was 24 years ago – that is astounding,” he said.

“You should care about turtles, seabirds and whales, but even if you don’t, the two most lucrative fisheries in the US, lobster and scallops, are in those exact spots,” said Van Houtan, while 14 fisheries in Alaska have recently been declared federal disasters.

The Climate Connection

The heat content of the top 2,000 meters of the ocean set a new record in 2021, the sixth in a row. Prof John Abraham at the University of St Thomas in Minnesota, one of the team behind the assessment, said ocean heat content was the most relevant to global climate, while surface temperatures were most relevant to weather patterns, as well as many ecosystems.

Oceans are critical to understanding climate change. They cover about 70% of the planet’s surface and absorb more than 90% of global warming heat,” Abraham said. “The new study is helpful because the researchers look at the surface temperatures. It finds there has been a big increase in extreme heat at the ocean’s surface and that the extremes are increasing over time.”

All coral will suffer severe bleaching when global heating hits 1.5C, study finds.  Almost no corals on the planet will escape severe bleaching once global heating reaches 1.5C.

Adding to this correlational data, researchers have examined exactly how much more likely the warm conditions on the Great Barrier Reef were as a result of carbon emissions.

Imagine a world without human-induced global heating – a world without humans and their carbon emissions, the conditions on the Great Barrier Reef that caused the recent past and current bleaching events would have been virtually impossible,” said Dr. Andrew King, University of Melbourne.


Gw Graphic Outlook

Ocean warmth sets record high in 2021; Hawaii in the crosshairs

The warmth of the world’s oceans hit a new record high.

A new analysis, published Tuesday in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, showed that oceans contained the most heat energy in 2021 since measurements began six decades ago — accelerating at a rate only possible because of human-emitted greenhouse gases.

“When you have this long-term upward trend, you’re getting records broken almost every year, and it’s this monotonous increase,” said John Abraham, a co-author of the study and a professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

Data was gathered from a worldwide network of buoys in seven ocean basins.

the team found that ocean waters have been steadily warming since 1958, with each decade warmer than the last. Warming has significantly increased since the 1980s. Over recent decades, portions of the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean have warmed the most.

The longer-term trends brought on by human activity are also overpowering short-term climate fluctuations, such as La Niña and El Niño, which can have regional effects.

“Ocean stores more than 90 percent of the Earth’s net heat gain due to greenhouse gases. Thus, ocean warming is a fundamental indicator of the climate change,” Lijing Cheng, lead author and associate professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, wrote in an email. “The record ocean warming in 2021 is strong evidence that global warming continues.”

Global ocean warming is taking its toll

Climate Change Brings Record Ocean WarmthThe 2021 record isn’t surprising, said ocean researcher Linda Rasmussen, who was not involved in the study. Mainly, Rasmussen said, that is because the major driver of ocean warming has not changed.  “Because the ocean still absorbs the vast majority of the excess heat, it would be surprising if the trend didn’t continue.”

Last year, the record warmth manifested in several extreme weather events. Warmer water provides more energy, or fuel, for tropical storms, increasing their intensity and longevity. Following a record-breaking 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, 2021 brought another intense stretch of storms.

Hurricane Ida caused intense flooding and thunderstorms, ranking as the fifth-most expensive hurricane on record, with damage estimated at $75 billion. Hurricane Nicholas and Tropical Storms Elsa and Fred also inflicted billions of dollars’ worth of damage.

The increase in ocean heat also raises air temperatures, allowing more moisture to enter the warmer atmosphere. For every 1.8 degrees of warming, heavy rain events will intensify by about 7 percent. 2021 marked one of the wettest years on record for the East Coast, thanks to a slew of tropical storms and summer thunderstorms.

The unusual December tornadoes that struck several states can also be traced to the warm waters. In December, record warm temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico created an atmosphere more reminiscent of spring than winter. As such, two tornado outbreaks occurred in the southern and central United States in the same week.

Marine Heat Waves

“The coastal ocean temperatures that have broken records repeatedly in recent years would not have broken records without the underlying warming trend that has been in place for many decades,” wrote Rasmussen, a retired researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “Marine heat waves are one of the phenomena that are expected to increase as the ocean as a whole warms.”

Record Ocean Warmth In 2021“Ocean warming is destabilizing Antarctic ice shelves from underneath, which could lead to the collapse of large pieces of the ice sheet such as the Thwaites glacier, threatening massive . . . sea level rise,” Michael Mann, a co-author of the study and a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, wrote in an email. “This finding really underscores the urgency of acting on climate now.”

Also see:

Surface air temperatures for the past seven years were the hottest on record, with 2020 and 2016 tied for the warmest. Water, however, is much denser than air and holds heat much better than the atmosphere. It takes a much longer time for the oceans to either cool down or heat up, especially given that they cover more than 70 percent of Earth’s surface.

“If you want to know how fast the Earth is warming, you have to measure the oceans,”  Rasmussen said. “Since most of the global warming heat ends up in the oceans, we like to say that ‘global warming is ocean warming.’

Pv To Ev

Hawaii-based climate solutions needed now

Update: Jan. 11th, 2022

Hawaii Legislature Update on Climate Issues

According to House Finance Committee Chair Sylvia Luke, “now that we have more revenues coming in, we need to make commitments. We need to make money commitments in order for us to address climate change.”

The Environmental Legislative Caucus, a group formed in 2020 to encourage legislative action on environmental issues, plans to introduce a package of measures including visitor green fees, habitat conservation, carbon pricing, health initiatives and more.

Similarly, the Hawaii Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission, a legislative advisory group composed of state and county officials, plans to prioritize ground transportation reduction and adaptation to sea level rise. 

Originally Published: Jan. 7th, 2022

Hawaii’s Political Inertia

Hawaii’s District 8 Representative and Chair of the House Energy and Environmental Committee, Nicole Lowen, recently wrote in Civil Beat… “We do not need to look far to see how the climate crisis is shaping life in Hawaii. Climate change is fueling extreme weather across our state, including wildfires and floods.”

Rep. Lowen gets it, which is more than can be said for many of her colleagues in Hawaii’s House and Senate.

There is no way around it, the state, the country, and the world must undertake with all vigor meaningful action to more than just cut fossil fuel emissions, and as a community of islands engage in a true transformation into a sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle.

For Hawaii, this means greater emphasis on accountability in grand legislative goals with far reaching deadlines, e.g., the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) for conversion to a statewide clean and renewable energy transformation by 2045 – a policy which trades present day fossil fuel dependencies for renewable energy replacements.

This far reaching and insightful statewide energy strategy was born in the 1990’s and has been designed to advance and enable zero emissions clean energy sources, e.g.,  solar and wind (Hawaii’s natural energy assets). At the same time, the same renewable energy policy allows in costly and polluting fossil fuel energy substitutes, some which directly contribute to, rather than mitigate, climate change impacts. One current example of this mix and match energy policy is Honua Ola (aka Hu Honua) — a costly (in terms of energy replacement costs to the environment and climate), and takes the form a cutting and burning trees-for-energy replacement strategy in partnership with the HECO.

Thwaites; Glacier Meltdown

What’s the hurry you ask, we’ve got time to work out all this climate stuff — well, not really. The climate clock is ticking down to zero hour faster than many people recognize or choose to admit.  Never before has the saying …think globally, act locally, applied so well to Hawaii’s future.

Hawaii’s geographic isolation is not a Climate Change solution, nor is this a problem confined to the mainland or far off countries and cultures. Weather, climate, social and economic climate changes are global. Certainly, swaying palm trees, sunrises and sunsets which may momentarily take your breath away are small comfort or relief from a human-induced and runaway climate change experiment now impacting the entire planet.

One example of faraway global changes with local consequences was news of the little known Thwaites Glacier, a West Antarctic Ice Sheet glacier which scientists describe as the cork in the bottle which is holding back rapid sea level rise.

Antartic Glacier MeltdownThe Thwaites Glacier is size of Britain, and is retreating rapidly as a warming ocean erases its ice from below, leading to faster flow, more fracturing and collapse, according to an international team of scientists. This one glacier currently contributes to over four percent of annual global sea level rise.

“Thwaites is the widest glacier in the world,” according to Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). “It doubled its ice-to-water outflow speed within the last 30 years, and the glacier in its entirety holds enough water to raise sea level by over two feet. This will lead to even more sea-level rise, up to 10 feet, if it draws the surrounding glaciers with it. If Thwaites were to collapse, it would drag most of West Antarctica’s ice with it,” said Scambos.

Scientists, recently speaking at the American Geophysical Union sponsored event, reported that the keystone Antarctic glacier will likely collapse in the next five to ten years. This is by far the most aggressive science-driven projection of a predicted collapse.  Fractures that span more than 40 kilometers across nearly the entire Thwaites Glacier and ice shelf are showing signs of an impending collapse. What does have to do with Hawaii.., plenty.

If Thwaites Glacier, and other critical neighboring glaciers such as Pine Island Glacier, cannot hold back the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which holds the equivalent of 3.3 meters (10.8 feet) in sea level, it will affect coastlines across the world, and most certainly islands throughout the Pacific, including the Hawaii.

The submerged mountain of ice, the size of Florida, presently serves as a sea barrier for the massive Antarctic ice flow — in effect, Thwaites is the a cork in a bottle for the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Thwaites Glacier (the melting tongue, aka cork in the bottle)

What does this mean for Hawaii?

To start… the corresponding sea level rise from a Thwaites Glacier meltdown will likely result in a new norm for Hawaii’s famous beaches, coastline properties and commercial assets, including ports and airports, projected impacts previously acknowledged by internal state studies.

Rising sea levels will also bring with them not only flooding, but saltwater invasion of fresh water supplies across the island chain.

Fisheries and coral reefs are already facing human-induced climate stressors.  The livelihoods they support are also threatened by escalating ocean temperatures and ocean acidification, with sea level rise just one more disruptive component tied to ever growing state of global climate heating.  It’s no wonder that economic and social consequences of climatic change now underway will not exempt Hawaii from these transformational changes.

Hawaii Climate Changes 1

The U.S. Pacific Islands are culturally and environmentally diverse, and treasured by the 1.4 million people who call Hawaii home.

As a region, the Pacific islands are particularly vul­nerable to climate change impacts due to their exposure and isolation, small size, low eleva­tion (in the case of atolls), and concentration of infrastructure and economy along the coasts.

In multiple assessments lead by Department of Commerce / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in a “Nati0nal Climate Assessment” various participating federal government agencies agree on several common conclusions as to global heating impacts specific to Hawaii and other Pacific island communities:

  • “Sea level rise will disproportionately affect the tropical Pacific, potentially exceeding projected global sea level rise estimates”

The impacts of sea level rise in the Pacific include coastal erosion, episodic flooding, permanent inundation, heightened exposure to marine hazards, and saltwater intrusion to surface water and groundwater systems.

The Federal strategy towards addressing climate changes for the Pacific region has been summed up this way:

“Across the region, groups are coming together to minimize damage and disruption from coastal flooding and inundation as well as other climate-related impacts. Social cohe­sion is already strong in many communities, making it possible to work together to take action. Early intervention can lower economic, environmental, social, and cultural costs and reduce or prevent conflict and displacement from ancestral land and resources.”

What Can Hawaii Do?

We can start by addressing with our own contributions to the problem…

We can develop local and proactive solutions that include, but are not limited; corrective measures which support environmental-climate friendly economic opportunities based on sustainable economics and business practices.

As this new year gets underway a coalition statewide groups have joined together to contribute their ideas and expertise to the challenges facing Hawaii. The coalition’s mission is to provide representative solutions to the public and politicians as Hawaii Environmental Change Agents (HECA). The coalition’s priorities for 2022 and beyond has been summed up this way:

“The extreme weather caused by climate change is becoming more severe and more pervasive throughout the world,” according to Charley Ice, a member of the event planning committee…”  “Climate change is such a large and complex issue that a multi-faceted approach is needed. We will explore Hawaii’s most effective, practical alternatives…

A diverse set of citizen groups comprise Hawaii Environmental Change Agents, their agenda focus for Hawaii’s 2022 legislative session reflects the diversity of the working group and includes, but is not limited to;

  • Carbon Pricing
  • Visitor Impact Fee (Green Fee)
  • Green Constitutional Amendment
  • Decarbonization of Transportation
  • Decarbonization of Buildings
  • Carbon Sequestration
  • Renewable Clean Energy Reforms
  • Wastewater and Cesspool Reforms
  • Hawaii Reef, Reef fish, and Ocean Protections
  • Climate Justice

There are an estimated 300 environmental organizations currently active in Hawaii.


Wind Solar

Energy Reforms; Essential to Hawaii’s Decarbonization Goals

Key to Climate mitigation measures are the state’s on-going and overdue transition to clean, renewable, and self-sufficient energy generation. BeyondKona has reported extensively on the energy and its linkage to all aspects of life in Hawaii.  Designed to power Hawaii’s economy, transportation, and telecommunications infrastructures, this statewide energy transition is essential on Hawaii’s path to sustainability.

Key Energy Facts for the State

  • Hawaii was the first state to set a deadline for generating 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources, which is required to be achieved by 2045.
  • Despite being among the five states with the lowest total energy consumption, Hawaii uses about 11 times more energy than it produces. More than four-fifths of Hawaii’s energy consumption is petroleum, making it the most petroleum-dependent state.
  • In 2019, solar power provided more than half of Hawaii’s total renewable electricity generation, primarily from small-scale, customer-sited solar panel systems, which have roughly tripled in capacity since 2015.
  • The amount of Hawaii’s coal-fired generation in 2019 was the lowest since 1992, and coal fueled 12% of the state’s electricity generation. The state’s one coal-fired power plant is scheduled to be retired in 2022.
  • Hawaii has the highest average electricity retail price of any state, in part because it relies on imported petroleum for more than 60% of its electricity generation.

Hawaii’s Transition to a Clean Energy Economy

Hawaii’s successful transition to a clean energy economy, one which is fully decarbonized, will require all stakeholders participation. Missing from this conversation has mostly been the general public.  Traditional stakeholder roles have been primarily limited to the state’s two electric utilities, their energy suppliers, one or two advocacy participants, and Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

Beyond Hawaii’s stranglehold dependency on imported fossil fuels to run its economy, the public policy focus has been on switching Hawaii’s energy fueling priorities to locally generated energy sources. This has been no small task for the key stakeholders, Hawaii’s two principal utilities, one private and publicly-traded Hawaiian Electric (HECO), and the other, Kauai’s energy cooperative, KIUC.


Beyond the obvious ownership, size, and business model differences between Hawaii’s two electric utilities, there is the question of good faith compliance by the two utilities in meeting the state’s far out and far reaching transformational energy goals.

It is also a David and Goliath comparison between KIUC (Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative) and Hawaiian Electric (HECO).

Kauai’s local energy cooperative has demonstrated nimble innovation in its deployment of advanced zero emissions energy replacements (solar and battery storage) for what was a primarily fossil-fueled grid.   KIUC’s aggressive conversion to utility scale solar energy, coupled to its leadership in utility scale battery deployments, is not only impressive, but demonstrates a good faith compliance with state’s renewable energy goal, and at the same time has proven to be beneficial to KIUC ratepayers — all in the  name of  decarbonization of electricity at a utility scale.

… and Goliath

Over 20 years into the state’s renewable energy mandate the state’s largest utility, HECO, has made some progress towards its 100% conversion to renewable energy, but has focused its limited efforts on fringe energy options also allowed under the state’s current (all-in) renewable energy portfolio standard, largely ignoring solar, wind, and renewable energy storage options. These utility scale misfires recently culminated in the utility’s awaking of the long anticipated and state-mandated shutdown of the state’s only coal-fired power plant, AES, located in Oahu.

Last week, HECO asked its customers on Oahu “to conserve energy especially between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m”, because the AES coal plant is now operating at less than half its capacity, and five other generators are offline, along with operational other issues.  The utility has also been lobbying for an extension of AES operations beyond the 2022 shut down mandate deadline.

Hawaii’s RPS law is not a state secret. The problem HECO faces is bigger than any specific event, rather it is one of the utility’s own making. The utility has had years to plan and to take action, yet as recently as 2020, HECO’s own Management Audit summed things this way, “… the Company’s planning assumptions and business strategy must reflect a 100% renewables future. In addition, it is anticipated that much of the new renewable generation will be provided from third party developers through PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) rather than by the Company”.

This awaking statement by HECO management could easily be interrupted as a response to … so we failed to take RPS compliance actions, wasted time and ratepayer savings, let clean and renewable solar and wind energy replacement opportunities come and go in recent years. So can fix all this by outsourcing the problem to third parties through PPA’s. After all, that may not be a bad strategy for Goliath of a utility not known for taking innovative and bold steps forward while clinging onto a business model vested in the past.

Hawaii, a National Leader in Solar Power?

The current RPS, under § 269-92, Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”), requires electric utilities in the State to generate at least the following amounts of electricity from renewable sources as a percentage of electricity sales by year:

Rps 2007 17

  • 2010   10%
  • 2015   15%
  • 2020   30%
  • 2030   40%
  • 2040   70%
  • 2045  100%

Recent state energy history revealed an interesting lesson for regulators and the regulated. Leave the state’s clean energy goal to market forces and technology, and all things become possible.

Case in point; Net Metering (NEM), an experiment in market forces, which by some utility sector interpretation, turned utility customers with roof top solar installations into utility competitors.

Hawaii’s original NEM program represented many things to many people, but it did accomplished a significant and sustainable transition off Hawaii’s oil and coal-fired power generation plants to the state’s most abundant and clean energy asset: sunlight.

In reality, Hawaii’s short lived experiment with its highly successful NEM program of economic equity between utility customers (as both consumers and power producers), and the utilities holding all the cards in partnership, unfortunately did not last.  The NEM experiment demise was not unique to Hawaii. Its popularity and market force changes made it just too disruptive for traditional utilities to adapt.

The original NEM did supercharge a statewide roof top solar adoption renaissance, the most notable period to date in state’s RPS transition off of imported fossil fuels.

The solar adoption boom years of 2012 -2015 also produced an economic boom with the creation of thousands of good paying solar jobs within the state. But perhaps the lasting effect of the brief and highly successful experiment was the sustainable and rapid transformation of the state’s energy dependency from a sole source utility grid provider to a highly efficient and distributed power generation and usage environment.

Equally important, the original NEM program laid the foundation for the recent and expanding adoption of energy management and storage at the point of consumption, free from grid dependencies and accompanying power uncertainties.

But all things must pass, including Hawaii’s successful and equitable NEM problem.  HECO, like other for profit electric utilities around the country systematically and successfully lobbied the shutdown of what was for Hawaii at least, a remarkably statewide success, only to be replaced with NEM replacements laden with roof top solar adoption road blocks and economic disincentives.

Solar power provides a significant boost to Hawaii’s efforts to build a clean energy future. By the end of 2015, Oahu residents had nearly 41,600 rooftop solar systems with a capacity of 343 MW, significantly more than the largest conventional HECO generator on the island.

Distributed roof top solar couple to battery storage offers several benefits to Hawaii’s residential and commercial buildings. For one, energy security advantages not otherwise available through today’s utility-controlled and vulnerable centralized power generation and distribution grid system.    

Aligning energy efficiency strategies with longer term renewable energy goals effectively increases the share of renewables in the generation portfolio. Unless the rising demand for energy is addressed, and that’s not fully possible with the added demand for power in the electrification of transportation now underway in that state and beyond.


Increases in the rapid statewide adoption of non-polluting, emissions free renewables can no longer be relegated to some future vision with arbitrary deadlines. A fact of life that we must all address as power consumers and producers. The Climate Change bill for the past 150 years of polluting energy dependencies has finally come due; both globally and locally.  The state legislature should no longer delay in making meaningful changes and corrections to an outdated RPS law, and provide clear guidance to the state’s two electric utilities to focus on ‘proven” clean and renewable energy replacements options.

The Climate clock is ticking down to zero hour, and 2045 may be too late for Hawaii to mitigate the most serious of social, climate, and economic impacts. And as interesting as unproven and experimental energy replacement options may represent, the need for  local, reliable, cost effective, and zero emissions energy replacement options is now. The good news is these clean energy replacement options are available today to Hawaii’s electric utilities.

The course for the state’s energy future was set in late 1990’s. As the state struggles to transition off its primary energy dependence of imported fossil fuels to power the grid, there is a wrinkle to meeting a statewide goal by 2045 for 100% renewable energy generation — that is, the state’s recent policy shift and market changes towards the electrification of public and private ground transportation – an impact which is now only being considered for its cause and effect relationship to the state’s 100% renewable energy timetable.

Eo Wilson

Edward O Wilson; the real Ant Man

…his insights will be missed

Edward O Wilson, a US naturalist known to some as the “modern-day Darwin”, died on Sunday at the age of 92 in Massachusetts.  Alongside the British naturalist David Attenborough, Wilson was considered one of the world’s leading authorities on natural history and conservation.

Wilson had warned many times that humans can not continue to use the land and resources of the planet absent of environmental and social consequences. 

The insightful  biologist was caught up in controversies at times during his career. Nevertheless, he warned that “we live in a delusional state” if we do not understand the burden that the western way of life imposes on Earth. A warning that rings true, especially as the consequences of human-induced climate change continue to increase.

Plos wilson.jpgWilson has been called “the father of sociobiology” and “the father of biodiversity” for his environmental advocacy. Among his contributions to ecological theory is the theory of island biogeography (developed in collaboration with the mathematical ecologist Robert MacArthur), and has served as the foundation for conservation area design, as well as the unifying theory of biodiversity of Stephen P. Hubbell.

“If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed 10,000 years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.”  E.O. Wilson

Wilson came to think of nature as his favorite companion and spent hours prowling forests, streams and swamps, observing wildlife. A childhood fishing accident left his vision so impaired that he could not observe larger animals from a distance. Instead, he concentrated on smaller creatures, and foremost, ants. Wilson’s studies and findings revealed how nature’s smallest of creatures exist, and how their social hierarchy resembled humans in some ways, but also greatly differed in other ways, especially in living in balance with their natural environment.

There are thousands of different species of ant, no one is sure since most of them are unknown to science, and perhaps a hundred million billion of the creatures are alive at any one time living in colonies of elegant social complexity.  Humanity still has lessons to learn from Earth’s smallest of creatures, and one outstanding lesson is working together to ensure the survival of the colony.