Federal Funding

Deploy, Deploy, Deploy

This year will see the beginning of massive Federal dollars being applied to the single largest investment in climate and energy in American history.

Follow the money

Within its energy and climate provisions, IRA appropriates approximately $11.7 billion in total for the Loan Programs Office (LPO) to support issuing new loans. These amounts increase loan authority in LPO’s existing loan programs by approximately $100 billion, and $5 billion for a new loan program, the Energy Infrastructure Reinvestment (EIR) Program (section 1706), designed to enable the retooling, repower, repurpose, or replacement of energy infrastructure assets that have ceased operations, while improving the efficiency of the power infrastructure that is currently operating.

Ira GraphThe Inflation Reduction Act is more than another Federal economic assistance program. It represents a sweeping national policy change that recognizes and seeks to address the realities of human-caused global heating consequences on America and the world.  It is the fulfillment of what has been in the political arena, decades of climate denial and unfilled mitigation measures.

What does this mean for Hawaii? The short answer is a lot.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) directs new federal spending toward reducing carbon emissions, fueling explosive growth in both renewables and energy efficiency. The commercial and industrial space will also see large deployments in electric vehicles and solar with new federal incentives. These are being matched with large investments in private capital thanks to tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Hawaii has established incentives of its own including battery storage and time of use rates where the commercial sector can greatly benefit. This provides load shifting and increases the efficiency of the grid as a result. Less reliance on expensive peak generation. Hawaiian Electric’s Power Move program and Battery Bonus program along with Hawaii Energy rebates for energy efficiency upgrades that shed loads like lighting, pumps and motors, smart controls, and energy management systems.

Battery storage is also benefitting from the Defense Production Act and prices will fall as new factories are built. We will see a lot more commercial fleets converting to electric vehicles with incentives for charging infrastructure driving the market. EVs greatly reduce fleet maintenance as well as fuel savings that are so high in Hawaii. Rental car companies could be a big player as Hertz and others are already making these investments.

Another powerful tool is energy-saving performance contracts which self-finance based on energy savings created. Many Hawaii state agencies have leveraged this third-party financing approach to retrofit buildings like the Honolulu Airport which combined traditional energy conservation retrofits like LED lighting with solar arrays. No upfront cost to taxpayers and it leverages taxable depreciation on assets unavailable to the government, and directly resulting in even more savings.

Energy activists and legislators need to take notice of the potential in the commercial and industrial space and push government agencies to do their own fleet conversions and building retrofits. With federal incentives and third-party financing like energy-saving performance contracts, now is the time to ride the wave of private investments and create jobs in Hawaii.

Course Correction

One area that needs more public notice is the impact in the commercial and industrial sectors as these represent really big numbers. This includes a range of products like heat pumps, motors, refrigeration, fans, boilers, and distribution transformers. Under the Energy Act of 2020, energy efficiency standards continue to be ratcheted up, and rebate incentives established to encourage deployment.

Distribution transformers are key to energy resilience and President Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act to address domestic production in the face of supply chain issues.

Climate change impacts have added to the urgency as utilities struggle to replace grid infrastructure caused by storms. This creates an opportunity to boost the deployment of new more efficient transformers. As all energy goes through distribution transformers, the savings potential is enormous. U.S. DOE estimates $15 billion plus the greenhouse gas emission reductions that would result.

The influx of essential and timely arrival of investment capital in the form of IRA funding, is just what the doctor ordered for Hawaii’s own transition to a clean and lower cost clean energy economy.


Steve Holmes – Contributing Editor

  • U.S Department of Energy National Energy Champion
  • Energy & Sustainability Coordinator for Honolulu
  • Honolulu City Councilmember (12 years)
  • Hawaii State Energy Office analyst
  • Rebuild America Partnership Leader of the Year
Solar Wind Bess

At a Crossroads, Hawaii’s Energy Future – II

Solar, Wind, Water, and Battery storage

Solar Person Graphic

When and if the day ever comes when the sun stops shining, the wind stops blowing, and all the rivers and waterfalls dry up — well, we will all be in serious trouble.  Until that time we humans have an inexhaustible supply of power from sources as natural to the planet as life itself.

Solar radiation, wind, ocean tidal currents and hydro in various forms are all natural and zero emissions energy sources available to power commerce, transportation, and buildings without the added costs of damaging climate and pollution by-products, supply-chain disruptions, and a pathway for humanity to forego future engagements in the form of energy-resource wars.

As to the question of Hawaii’s energy future, one thing is clear; the state’s two electric utilities are facing transitional decisions as to their energy options and solutions towards a statewide clean energy economy.

In terms of a statewide energy transformation, the twenty-two years remaining on the RPS utility clock can easily pass in the blink of an eye.  So far, the state’s two electricity utilities have performed reasonable well in meeting their RPS obligations, but closing the remaining 40% energy gap in order to fulfill those obligations will prove the most challenging.  This is especially true for Hawaiian Electric which serves over 95% of the state’s grid-dependent electricity customers, yet continues to be heavily invested in yesterday’s power production solutions and assets.

If Hawaiian Electric’s train wreak response to a long anticipated shut down of the former AES coal-fired power plant in Oahu is an example of allowing utilities to set the RPS agenda and bypass public accountability, it could prove to be a prescription for failure.

Hawaiian Electric may be unwilling or incapable or both to make the needed and timely transformation to clean energy, and if so, then a corrective process of legislative reforms is now needed — and this forthcoming 2023 state legislative session is a good time to begin that process.

Such legislative reforms of the state’s utilities should be driven by the public’s interest, not HE shareholders.  In Hawaiian Electric’s case, that will include acquiring or partnering with available, cost-efficient, and market proven clean energy replacements and new business partnerships. One obstacle HE faces is the replacement of their combustion-based dirty power production assets which continue to power the utility’s energy deliveries — and which they remain primarily dependent.

Hawaiian Electric, as with much of the rest of utility sector, now finds themselves in a world rapidly accelerating on the path in the completion of a journey to electrification which began 150 years ago.   The biggest energy change drivers today are; 1) addressing the over-arching state of climate impacts and,  2) the electrification of transportation.  More specifically ground transportation in the form of electric cars, trucks, commercial vehicles, and beyond that, in the near future limited-range all-electric passenger aircraft.

This is a truly a great time to be in the business of producing and selling all things tied to electricity and utilities like Hawaiian Electric already own a good share of this growing marketplace. However, these same historic and monopolistic positions utilities hold are increasingly threatened by many new forms of energy innovation, many increasingly independent of traditional grid power dependencies.

Hawaiian Electric is far from being locked out of the most effective clean energy alternatives.  Rather its executions on emerging grid energy and distributed power opportunities are seen as clean energy options, but so far have produced a mix bag of energy choices with varying ratepayers consequences. The company’s fulfillment of their state-regulated renewable energy mandates remains in question at the half point to 2045. This is a weakness in the both the state statues governing the RPS energy rules, and the utility’s execution of its obligations.

If its a matter of money, well then, there is no time like the present. Certainly the opportunity for Federal economic assistance has never been greater in the form of Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). But like most Federal programs, financial assistance can be fleeting when financial opportunities are ignored and become lost opportunities.


Microgrids will play an increasingly essential role in Hawaii’s 21st century power transformation

On the bright side, Hawaiian Electric announced last month that the company was engaged in no less than seven smaller scale solar projects, six will include battery storage.

Jhei Solar Porjects 2023 25

The projects are not of Hawaiian Electric’s energy design for the state, that credit goes to Nexamp in the fulfillment of the company’s self-described mission “…our seven new Nexamp projects in Hawai‘i will help the state move toward its decarbonization goals”.

The company’s business model is all about delivering lower cost clean energy solutions to lower income communities in what it calls to “… democratize clean energy and support U.S. energy independence.”  The Nexamp business model may also offer just exactly what utilities’ like Hawaiian Electric need, but historically have been slow to change and may now be struggling in the present energy landscape.

Partnering with companies like Nexamp could also be a win-win for both companies in what is leveraging Nexamp’s unique business model of incorporating Clean Energy Deployment, Customer Acquisition and on-going project Management.

“Solar power belongs everywhere. By decentralizing the energy system and offering our subscribers savings on their electricity costs, we’re building a future of energy that’s clean, simple, and accessible,”  Zaid Ashai, Nexamp CEO.

Addressing not only the state’s fossil fuel dependencies is tied to the challenges and growing threats to energy resiliency. It is an ever increasingly climate by-product of more frequent and extreme weather events.  Add in he arrival of mass market vehicle electrification and the corresponding charging demands, and altogether, the need for energy security at various points of consumption which independent of a fragile sole source the grid-powered infrastructure is a problem with many solutions.  The issue is accentuated for Hawaii’s energy consumers with island-specific power delivery challenges under all conditions.

Microgrid 1

Microgrids are generally defined or referred to as community or shared electricity generation and storage facility. They can be interdependent and connected to the grid for power sharing purposes or fully grid independent.

Microgrids represent a small network of electricity users linked to a local energy source which can be independent and interdependent or both with the utility’s centralized power grid. Microgrids can operate fully independent of the grid in an emergency and in extended utility power outages. Recent examples of the success of microgrids can be found after major storm events from California to Puerto Rico. 

The smallest and individual (residential) form of a microgrid can be found in the form of a rooftop solar with a battery back-up system installation; connected to and independent of the grid; either building specific or neighborhood scale.


Batteries are Better

Zero emissions and pollution free (solar and wind) energy sources are increasingly being coupled to battery storage systems containing highly intelligent and fully-automated power management systems to not only even-out power generation intermittency when connected to the grid, but also store excess power for use later and/or load balance power needs with the grid; in effect function as a firm power asset for a utility.

Battery capacity continues to increase, along with performance as prices drop.  The U.S. Energy Information Administration said that when it totaled the numbers for 2021, they showed that battery storage capacity grew by 4.5 GW, or 300%.  EIA cited the reasons for battery adoption and market share growth in the utility energy sector and attributed it to ...“declining cost for battery storage applications, favorable economics when deployed with renewable energy (predominantly wind and solar PV), and value-added additions in regional transmission organization (RTO) markets have helped drive the expansion of battery storage.”

The EIA expects 10 GW of battery storage capacity to come online in the US in 2023, with more than 60% of it paired with solar generation facilities.

Hawaiian Electric announced three days ago (Dec. 29th) its participation status and update in the AES Waikoloa energy project, Hawai‘i Island’s largest solar and battery storage project to date, and which is scheduled to begin full operations by April 2023, or earlier under a 25-year power purchase agreement with the utility.

Waikoloa Solar Farm 1The Waikoloa project broke ground in April 2021, with photovoltaic solar panels and battery storage system installations began in late 2021, with solar panels and batteries now fully installed and under ongoing testing of the facility. The AES Waikoloa Solar + Storage project is presently being tested up to 85% of its capacity,

The power production agreement for the clean (solar) energy plant will translate into a major economic and environmental benefit for both Hawaiian Electric and the Hawai‘i Island ratepayers as electricity produce will be delivered on-demand at 9 cents per kilowatt-hour, one of the lowest rates for energy in the entire state. 

When fully operational, the Waikoloa solar project will generate 42.2 megawatts (DC) of renewable energy supported by a 120 MWh containerized lithium-ion battery energy storage system.   The solar farm is located near Waikoloa Village.


What’s Missing in Today’s Energy Conversation?

In terms of Hawaii’s energy future that can be answered in a single word; opportunity.

Opportunity can be defined as many things.  In the case of Hawaii’s electricity future the missing element in todays’ island-by-island transformation may have less to do a utility’s grid priorities and more to do the advancing case for microgrids and rooftop solar, each coupled to on-site energy storage with onboard power management capabilities, independent and interactive with today’s utility’s power systems.

In the case of the Waikoloa solar project it represents for Hawaii County and the state, a major step forward in advancing the state’s clean energy possibilities from talk-to-reality. It is also a road less taken by Hawaiian Electric, better know for its misfires with the ill-fated Hu Honua biomass plant, and the PGV geothermal plant now still recovering the 2018 Kilauea eruption.  What the Waikoloa solar project does do is represent an important step forward for the Utility. It is also an example of market and technology-driven energy solutions now arriving in Hawaii, just in time in the face of an escalating global climate crisis.

At point into the foreseeable future unproven, currently impractical and uneconomical energy alternatives may deliver on their promised benefits, and they will be market-ready to serve as net energy solutions without polluting and climate side effects, e.g.; fusion, hydrogen, second generation nuclear power. But that time is decades-to-forever away from meaningful and cost effective energy substitutes that fully address the damaging effects of our present fossil fuel addiction.

The clean energy opportunity before us extends from one end of Hawaii to the other.  At the far end of Hawaii’s chain of island communities rely on Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC), which so far by example, has taken the lead towards in the adoption of battery storage (BESS) technology and in combination with utility scale solar installations.

One notable example is the recently added solar-battery farm of the Lāwai Solar and Energy Storage facility, now serving in its new role as solar peaker-plant plus-battery storage; delivering reliable and readily dispatchable firm energy (on-demand) to island residents.

Kauai’s cooperative-owned utility’s does not face the financial legacy investments and liabilities Hawaiian Electric has built up in over a century of operation and with its utility-owned combustion boiler power plant assets.  The differences between the state’s two electric utilities is more than just size and ownership, Hawaiian Electric operates in a multi-grid and multi-island service territory, unlike Kauai’s KIUC single island service territory, and can afford a more progressive management style, than the publicly-traded Hawaiian Electric.

Yet, will all its assets and access to financial markets, Hawaiian Electric continues to operate with an eye on preserving yesterday’s decades old boiler-based generation plants owned by HE, funded by ratepayers, and primarily fueled by oil and diesel to produce electricity.

These older and expensive plants operate serve as combustion-fueled energy plants with not only outdated operating technology, but with energy limitations and liabilities to match. They are further supported by regulatory guidelines equally outdated, which remain costly to ratepayers and enable the business-as-usual business practices accountable to the company’s shareholders, not HE ratepayers. These legacy boiler plants are simply too expensive to continue to be operated with ratepayer subsidies and with unaccounted costs to the state’s environment and public health.  In short, HE combustion-based powerplants, and their ongoing operation, represent obstacles to the state’s climate plans and goals, and needed energy reforms.

Solar Wind BessA popular, but ill-informed political argument during this past legislative session against utility-scale solar, wind with batteries serving in the role of firm energy is that they intermittent energy sources with batteries are limited to four (4) hours energy reserves. This statement has become the mantra of some ill-informed Hawaii state lawmakers.  The statement is half right, and all wrong at the same time. The plain truth is battery storage limitations in the form of firm energy applications are defined by scale and cost, not technology limitations. Like your cell phone or electric vehicle, the bigger the battery the greater the stored energy and the longer the charge.

This outdated battery argument is too often recalled to justify the need for firm energy in a form that can be only satisfied by burning one thing or another as fuel in order to justify the forever operation of the utility’s last century combustion-boiler power plants. Which continue to operate with the company assurance they will “eventually” stop burning imported fossil fuels.

A well-known Hawaii-based energy pundit correctly described the present role of solar energy plus battery storage in the state as “… Batteries blur the line but do not remove the line: batteries make variable power more firm (firmer) but not fully firm.”   The comment may be accurate at some previous moment in time, but no longer. On-demand firm power performance, especially at utility scale today finds  battery systems technology continuing to defy yesterday’s arguments against the technology that is rapidly transforming the grid through clean energy replacements.

Grid-delivered power over long distances is the state’s largest utility’s bread and butter profit center.  For that reason ahead of all others, the utility’s perspective continues to drive the state’s conversation on energy policy from the utility’s perspective – naturally.    It is more than a weakness of imagination or a purposeful ignorance of opportunity, it is intent on preserving energy policies designed to serve the primary interests of the state’s largest shareholder utility.

Battery Cost Reduction QuoteChange is in the Air

Once comfortable in their fossil fueled domain of business as usual, electric utilities increasingly face market and regulatory forces challenging their historic monopoly-driven energy business practices.  But a quickly evolving market pace based on  economic-electrification is now coupled (willingly or otherwise) to the national transformation of ground transportation off fossil fuels and to electrification.

These changes add more challenges to preserving the traditional utility’s use of  business-as usual arguments. When weighed against the profit opportunities for traditional electric utilities and others willing to think and act outside the box, energy market changes are inevitable.  These are macro changes in energy opportunities which are pushing aside past and increasingly obsolete power assumptions that combustion-based electricity production (which pollutes and emits GHG emissions) are a necessary part of the default energy matrix comprising today’s electrical grid.

Up until our recent past, power industry stakeholders saw the world of electricity production neatly roll-up into a package comprised mostly of fossil fuels, with nuclear and hydroelectric energy sources included for good measure. Just 15-20 years ago, it was assumed fossil fuels would have a forever role in generating power for the power’s sake.

Prior to that time, nuclear was held up as the future and be all energy source. Nuclear power’s history changed that assumption, as did the economics of the most expensive power option ever invented by humans which is tied to massive forever waste management obligations, and costly environmental and security implications.

When solar and wind energy generation options plus arrived on the scene they were viewed as showpieces to a clean energy future that may never be needed or realized. But as this article finds, even our friends at Hawaiian Electric may be seeing the (sun) light. The AES solar BESS project on the Big Island will most likely prove, even to the skeptics through direct operating evidence.  The good old days when no utility questions were asked or answered, these are times which have finally passed.

At the present rate technological and cost reduction advances,  battery technology is already viewed as an essential component of the grid energy matrix and increasingly rooftop solar systems.  In effect, today’s power assumptions are changing fast, and the state’s regulations which govern them are overdue for an update.


One Final thought, Let the sun shine in… 

In 2015 HECO joined mainland utilities in what proved to be a coordinated industry-wide campaign designed to kill the highly successful national transition to rooftop solar, fueled by net metering (NEM) rate allowances. Between 2012-16, Hawaii experienced it’s fastest economic growth in the state’s recent history. An economic renaissance completely disconnected from tourism; the solar boom years. Hawaii’s clean energy economy had arrived.  And along with it, good paying and diversified solar jobs throughout the four counties.

Hawaii Rooftop Solar InstallThe state’s largest power monopoly reasoned (to this day) took the popular utility view to this day that its customers who generate their own electricity are competitors not customers and that they represent a threat to profits when they operate in the role of power producer rather simply surrendering themselves to being fully indentured power consumers.

Across the power sector, utilities successfully lobbied their respective state PUC’s and  Federal gov’t energy friends that these pioneering solar customers were endangering the grid with their unscheduled and solar-powered contributions back to the grid.  The argument fell upon (then sympathetic) Hawaii PUC ears, and later proved to be the death knell of the most highly equitable ratepayer program designed to advance clean energy in the state. By the end 2016 Hawaii’s homegrown solar energy economy was in free fall.

Backup History1That was then, energy technology advances today, especially those coupled to commercialization have since delivered a range of intelligent battery management systems options to rooftop solar homeowners and businesses which did not exist just 4 years earlier.   This same battery storage tech also developed into utility-scale solutions from Hawaii Island-to-Kauai, and represent an ever increasing component in new utility deployments of renewable energy projects. And the role for battery options does not end there, but also as firm energy augmentation to the grid.

By 2019, with the introduction of Tesla’s Powerwall battery management system to the world ripped through utility arguments against rooftop solar.  Tesla Energy’s leadership also led to other manufactures offering similar home and commercial energy battery management storage products to augment rooftop solar installations. But this accomplishments were not limited to rooftop energy applications, but as utility-scale energy production and power management examples now ongoing online around the world.

Solar homeowners with battery management systems are today, in effect, functioning as their own scaled down power plants. This distributed version of utility firm power plants is powered by the sun, not the grid or fossil fuels. The technological arrival of home battery systems, those coupled with rooftop solar not only lower consumer’s energy bills (Hawaii being the highest in the country), but provided an equally important benefit: energy security aka resiliency.

There were other benefits as well for these power consumers turned energy producers.

Most power outages are generally thought of in terms of long term power outages. Get out the candles and flashlights, don’t open the refrigerator unless absolutely necessary, etc. Beyond the question of grid power reliability and resiliency, there are the hidden power consequences associated with grid delivered power in the form of hidden damage costs for consumers, the result of frequent short term utility outages. This type power outage can produce varying levels of power surges too often to be noticed and costly to ratepayers in terms of damaged equipment and components of customer appliances and electronics. Too often this type of subtle cause and effect electrical damage comes in the form of shortening the electronic life of your equipment and appliances, extremely difficult to track back to the cause or event.

Many people employ consumer power strips for protection from grid power surges. Power strips are little more than a multi-plug outlet. Even more sophisticated power protection equipment after one or more surge protection events fail in terms of future protection against power surges, generally accompanied by the loss and restoration of power by the utility. The events can also be the direct result of other utilities accessing the power lines for their own various purposes, and creating short term outages, and generally without notice to consumers..

Multiple power surges and short term grid power outages occur unnoticed but can easily be more damaging, as well inconvenient. Hawaii residents who have installed batteries at their homes and businesses find the satisfaction of a continuous and reliable power supply worth the investment with built-in power surge protection. One example is from a single home solar-battery management which typically provides embedded power surge protection by design. On Dec 19, 2022, as the power exhibit in the article demonstrates, a big island home owner recorded no less than six successive utility power interruptions, but notice no power changes within his home as the battery system covered all power drops, while protecting his electronics from possible and accompanying power surges.

The reluctant acknowledgement by utility executives of the role batteries now play in modern utility design and operation, regardless of their location or ownership, can be summed as a lost opportunity for all concerned. As long as ratepayers are ready and willing to bail them out, any real public accountability from your electric utility will remain elusive…

Biomass Plantjpg

At the Crossroads, Hawaii’s Energy Future – Part I

The subject of “firm energy” is not often discussed outside of Hawaii’s legislative chambers or activist circles. Nor does the general public generally follow state energy policy decisions, but the public does pay attention to the forever rising costs of their electricity bills, driven in part by a statewide journey to a fossil fuel off-ramp by 2045.

Recently, however, so-called firm energy, and the need for it, came up in this past legislative session. This was one of the most closely watched session topics and legislation for environmentalists, energy wonks, and utility stakeholders vying for legislative attention.  With a new governor and other changes to state government from this past election, it is possible another firm energy passion play will appear for a repeat legislation performance in 2023.

Firm energy made its debut on Oahu’s political landscape in the form of the low-key introduction of two (companion) senate bills introduced as SB 2510 and SB2511. Both bills had the backing and political push of two of Hawaii’s top enabling senate power brokers, and both whom hold key committee chair positions.

SB 2510 and SB2511 were created without much public discussion or justification. The bills appeared late in the session, a legislative tactic, and were “quickly pushed” through the state legislature  obstacle course at warp speed.  Once the bills became public knowledge they were as quickly challenged by environmental and citizen advocacy groups.

One of the two senate leadership authors made sweeping statements loaded with false assumptions and misinformation to justify the bills. Ignoring public criticism of the bills, the bill’s sponsors were not deterred, and quickly forced through the passage of the two firm energy bills with tactics best described by one key house representative chair as … “political blackmail”.

One thing was sure about SB 2510 and 2511, if these two bills passed the combined House and Senate chambers and became law they would come at the expense of Hawaii’s ratepayers and taxpayers.  It was not difficult to understand why former Governor Ige vetoed both bills as one of his end-of-term priorities before leaving office.

Both bills were a product of one utility, one union, and firm energy lobbyists whose goals were specifically fulfilled within SB 2510 and designed to carve out a substantial portion of all energy-for-electricity produced in Hawaii in the form of combustion-based “firm energy” mandates ranging from burning trees to trash.

The firm power mandates ignore today’s clean energy technology options and market realities. Worse yet, the legislation would have “gifted” to the state’s biomass energy lobby as much or more than 1/3 of the total grid energy produced and delivered to the state’s two electric utilities — forcing them to burn their way through utility power demands and off fossil fuels by stifling far better and competitive clean energy options available to the state.

Legislation of this type would also lock-in Hawaii’s on-going air pollution problems for residents and visitors, and equally troublesome, lock-out clean and cost effective energy options. The bill further guaranteed Hawaii’s greenhouse gas power plant emissions would increase, not decrease, in face of a growing global climate crisis in which Hawaii cannot escape.

Firm energy power is a utility industry term often used to represent power-producing capacity available at all times as guaranteed through a power provider commitment to deliver electricity to the grid, even under adverse conditions.  The likes of a series of super storms that visited Hawaii last week knocking out power from Kauai to the Big Island is the most recent example of today’s firm energy failing assumptions, an unconditional power guarantee to utilities, and by extension to ratepayers.

In the end, the two firm energy-biomass energy bills were written to expressly serve energy interests pushing biomass fuels at the expense of market-competitive solar, wind, and battery storage energy options superior to other fossil fuel energy replacements available to Hawaii today and by legislative fiat that ignore competing clean energy opportunities and social impacts.

The effect of this political malfeasance would had been denying lower cost clean energy options to ratepayers, while blocking a sustainable energy path forward to Hawaii.  It’s difficult to fathom how bypassing considerations of economics, social, and environmental-climate benefits in the form of mandated energy-combustion choices is in the public interest and that of ratepayers.


Biomass as Usual with Unusual Consequences

Biomass Plantjpg (biomass powerplant, trees as fuel example)

Energy subsidies, obvious and hidden, come in many forms.  The World Bank and IMF studies of 2016 found that global taxpayers funded the fossil fuel industrial energy sector to the tune of $6.6 trillion USD annually (adjusted to 2022 dollars), and that alone, without any other considerations, is by definition unsustainable.

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute found that the US government alone spends $20 billion every year on direct fossil fuel subsidies. Of that figure, around $16 billion went to oil and gas interests, while the remaining $4 billion benefited the coal energy sector. These hard dollar tax subsidies do not include the added social, environmental, and public climate costs for these dirty energy sources – measured in healthcare costs tied to pollution, climate costs linked to public and personal costs as in rising infrastructure taxes, rising P&C insurance costs, added healthcare expenses, and the list goes on.

Biomass is a form of combustion-based energy and is far from a liability-free form of energy in its role as an energy replacement for fossil fuels used to produced electricity.  As with fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal) all these sources of energy require a continuing and unpredictable supply-chain of combustible fuels and chemicals which must be sourced, transported, and finally burned to produce electricity at their power plant destinations.

Smokestack Emissions GraphBiomass was originally sold as a source of renewable energy that could help improve U.S. energy security, spur rural economic development, and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The industry was intended to increase energy production from non-food feedstocks such as municipal solid waste, perennial grasses, and forest and agriculture residues such as corn stalks and leaves.

Biomass fuels also vary (from trees-to-trash) but have several things in common with their fossil fuel cousins: 1) they are burned to produce electricity with smokestack emissions toxic to humans and the surrounding environment and, 2) they both add GHG (greenhouse) emissions to the atmosphere now driving rising global temperatures with disastrous global side effects to all living things.

Federal mandates and subsidies were meant to help get the biomass industry off the ground. However, in practice, U.S. financial support for subsidized biofuels and heat/power facilities using feedstocks has done more harm than good for the climate. Biomass-promoted government programs have also subsidized wood pellet manufacturing not only for domestic but also international use, adding one more environmental cost element what is a net-negative return on energy when electricity is produced from biomass.

Despite decades of billions of dollars in bioenergy subsidies – including those for biomass feedstocks used in biofuels production – the industry has failed to mitigate climate risks while spurring unintended public health consequences, and market distortions.

Biomass, along with oil, gas, and coal are considered firm energy when generally defined as combustion-based power sources operating full-tilt and around the clock to produce a steady state of energy output ready in a minute’s (seconds) notice to be added to electric grid, and as power demand dictate. This type of of grid operation is often referred to as “load balancing” electricity demand with supply, and it goes back nearly a hundred years as an essential element of electric utility grid operations.  Grid power demands are dictated by local energy requirements and/or influenced by events over great distances, as is often the case with the interconnected and continental mainland electricity grid. Hawaii today operates island-specific grids which are not interconnected.

When grid operators, utilities, e.g. Hawaii Electric are permitted to operate as energy monopolies with profits guaranteed, it is not difficult to understand their reluctance to operationally transform themselves from over a century-old set of proven and profitable business practices and into a 21st century provisioner of clean and sustainable energy customer services, and certainly not in the form of an operating model which is fully cost competitive and customer performance-oriented.

Biomass energy, as an envisioned in SB 2510 and SB 2511 and sold by their promoters as the best firm energy options for Hawaii via legislative mandate, amounts to little more than telling Hawaii to burn its our way out of its fossil fuel dependency, thus trading one set of costs for another with equal or greater consequences to that of the state’s grid dependency on fossil fuels.


In the second half of this article series, BeyondKona will explore clean energy options available to Hawaii’s transition off fossil fuels, and the energy options for lower utility bills for residents and businesses.

 

Big Oil

A Titan Battle: Oil versus Climate

Originally published May 14,2022

New oil and gas projects would produce 646 GtCOemissions, swallowing up the world’s entire carbon budget

Oil and gas majors are planning scores of vast projects that threaten to shatter the 1.5C climate goal. If governments do not act, these firms will continue to cash in as the world burns.

Biomass Ghg Air Pollution 1The world’s biggest fossil fuel firms are quietly planning scores of “carbon bomb” oil and gas projects that would drive the climate past internationally agreed temperature limits with catastrophic global impacts for all humanity.

An in-depth Guardian report finds global oil and gas firms are placing multibillion-dollar bets against humanity halting global heating.  The exclusive data shows ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron and state-run fossil fuel giants Gazprom (Russia) and China’s National Petroleum Corporation are actively placing multibillion-dollar bets against humanity halting global heating. Their huge investments in new fossil fuel production could pay off only if countries fail to rapidly slash carbon emissions, which scientists say is vital.

The oil and gas industry is extremely volatile but extraordinarily profitable, particularly when prices are high, as they are at present. ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron have made almost $2tn in profits in the past three decades, while recent price rises led BP’s boss to describe the company as a “cash machine”.

The lure of colossal payouts in the years to come appears to be irresistible to the oil companies, despite the world’s climate scientists stating in February that further delay in cutting fossil fuel use would mean missing our last chance “to secure a livable and sustainable future for all”.

Experts have been warning since at least 2011 that most of the world’s fossil fuel reserves could not be burned without causing catastrophic global heating.

UN secretary general, António Guterres, warned world leaders in April: “Our addiction to fossil fuels is killing us.”

The fossil fuel industry’s short-term expansion plans involve the start of oil and gas projects that will produce greenhouse gases equivalent to a decade of CO2 emissions from China, the world’s biggest polluter.

These plans include 195 carbon bombs, gigantic oil and gas projects that would each result in at least a billion tons of CO2 emissions over their lifetimes, in total equivalent to about 18 years of current global CO2 emissions. About 60% of these new oil and gas projects have already started pumping.

The guardian reported that the 12 biggest oil companies are on track to spend over $1oo million every day for the rest of the decade on fossil fuel expansion.

Big Oil Carbon BombsThe world’s scientists agree the planet is in deep trouble. In August, Guterres reacted strongly to a stark report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading authority on climate science. “The IPCC report is a code red for humanity,” he said.

The IPCC states carbon emissions must fall by half by 2030 to preserve the chance of a livable future, yet they show no sign of declining.

In May 2021, a report from the International Energy Agency, previously seen as a conservative body, concluded there could be no new oil or gas fields or coalmines if the world was to reach net zero by 2050.

In April, shocked by the latest IPCC report that said it was “now or never” to start slashing emissions, Guterres launched an outspoken attack on companies and governments whose climate actions did not match their words.

“Simply put, they are lying, and the results will be catastrophic,” Guterres said. “Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness”.  “Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals. But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels.”

The Russia Factor

The reaction to Russia’s war in Ukraine has pushed oil and gas prices even higher, further incentivizing bets on new fields and infrastructure that would last decades.

The failure of countries to “build back greener” after the Covid-19 pandemic or the 2008 financial crash was not a good omen, and Guterres said: “Fossil fuel interests are now cynically using the war in Ukraine to lock in a high-carbon future.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin decreed on May 3 that no Russian entity would be allowed to make deals with those on the sanctions list, or even fulfil its obligations under existing deals.

Moscow has imposed sanctions on the owner of the Polish part of the Yamal pipeline that carries Russian gas to Europe, as well as the former German unit of the Russian gas producer Gazprom, whose subsidiaries service Europe’s gas consumption, impacting 29 Gazprom subsidiaries in Switzerland, Hungary, Britain, France, Bulgaria, the Benelux region, the United States, Switzerland, Romania and Singapore.

The United States, and the rest of the world

The U.S. is the leading source of potential emissions. Its 22 carbon bombs include conventional drilling and fracking, and span the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the foothills of the Front Range in Colorado to the Permian basin.

Together, new US project gas and oil projects have the potential to emit 140bn tons of CO2, almost four times more than the entire world emits each year.

Saudi Arabia is the second biggest potential emitter after the US, with 107bn tons, followed by Russia, Qatar, Iraq, Canada, China and Brazil.  Australia, widely condemned by international leaders as a laggard in addressing the climate crisis, ranks 16th.

Carbon bombs

The term carbon bomb has been widely used in climate circles for the past decade to describe large fossil fuel projects or other big sources of carbon. The new research sets a specific definition: projects capable of pumping at least 1bn tons of CO2 emissions over their lifetimes.

The journal, Energy Policy, found that just a few months after many of the world’s politicians positioned themselves as climate leaders during the Cop26 conference in Glasgow, they were giving the green light to a massive global expansion of oil and gas production that scientists warn would push civilization to the brink, adding that 40% of planned gas and oil projects projects that had not yet started production must be stopped if the world was to avoid sliding ever more quickly towards catastrophe, adding they should be a prominent focus of the global climate protest movement in the months and years ahead.

Tyndall Centre of Climate Research, University of Manchester and Uppsala University, Sweden, said the scale of planned production in the face of all the evidence suggested big oil and its political supporters either did not believe the climate science or thought their extreme wealth could somehow protect them and their children from the devastating consequences.

“Either the scientists have spent 30 years working on this issue and have got it all wrong – the big oil CEOs know better – or, behind a veil of concern, they have complete disregard for the more climate vulnerable communities, typically poor, people of color and far away from their lives. Equally worrying, they are disinterested in their own children’s future.”

The Oil industry, awash with cash

BP’s chief financial officer, Murray Auchincloss, described things this way… “Certainly, it’s possible that we’re getting more cash than we know what to do with. For now, I’m going to be conservative and manage the company as if it’s $40 [a barrel] oil. Anything we could get above that just helps, obviously.” At the time, the oil price exceeded $90; today it is $106.”

Ff Subsidies 2Data obtained by the Guardian from the think tank Carbon Tracker shows a dozen of the world’s biggest companies are on track to commit a collective $387 million dollars a day of capital expenditure to exploiting oil and gas fields through to 2030.  A significant portion of this capital outlay is for maintaining existing projects – some oil and gas will still be needed as the world weans itself off fossil fuels –the exact amount is not publicly available.

Nonetheless, it is clear that at least a quarter of this investment – $103m a day – is for oil and gas that cannot be burned if the worst impacts of the climate crisis are to be avoided, money that could instead be spent ramping up clean energy.

Even more worryingly, the companies have developed further project options that might lead them to spend an additional $84m a day that would not even be compatible with a devastating 2.7C of global heating.

“Companies that continue to develop projects based on business-as-usual demand are betting on the failure of policy action on climate and underestimating the disruptive potential of new technologies, such as renewables and battery storage,” said Mike Coffin at Carbon Tracker. “Such projects are either not needed or they lead to warming well in excess of Paris goals.”

A separate  analysis based on Rystad Energy data from April, and after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, found that 20 of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies remained on course to spend huge sums – $932bn – by the end of 2030 developing new oil and gas fields.

A Costly Free Ride … just got more expensive

Freeing the world from the grip of fossil fuels is made far harder by huge ongoing subsidies for the fuels, making them far cheaper than their true cost when the damage they cause is included – especially air pollution, which kills 7 million people a year.

  • The G20 group of leading economies pledged in 2009 to phase out the subsidies but little has been achieved.
  • Hundreds of billions of dollars in direct financial support is received by the producers and consumers of fossil fuels every yearbut they benefit from far larger subsidies by not paying for the harm burning fossil fuels causes.
  • When the damage from the climate crisis and air pollution is accounted for, the fossil fuel subsidies reach $6tn a year, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
  • The Guardian analysis shows oil and gas subsidies equivalent to $11m a minute globally, more than $1 million a minute in the United States — and American drivers complain about the high cost of fuel.
  • The US is also high on the list of the biggest per capita subsidies for all fossil fuels with $2,000 a year, behind only Saudi Arabia ($4,550) and Russia ($3,560). After these countries, only Iran ($1815) is ahead of Australia ($1730) and Canada ($1690).
  • “Taking the Paris agreement seriously requires a rapid shift away from fossil fuels,” said Simon Black, a climate economist at the IMF. “Getting fossil fuel prices right will help enormously in accelerating this transition.”

“The world is in a race against time,” said UN’s Guterres. “It’s time to end fossil fuel subsidies and stop the expansion of oil and gas exploration.”

 

 

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.

https://tinyurl.com/4ttrtc8h    https://tinyurl.com/434a7ysd

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.”

 

Oil Earth Out Of Balance

The Perfect Storm – Part 2

Oil and gas companies are looking at a bonanza from the Ukraine war

Oil and gas companies see new profits and a stay of execution from the Ukraine war. Few in the industry want to admit it, but many fossil fuel interests are leveraging the current supply disruptions created by Russian embargos as the perfect storm – one to justify soaring prices, while engaging in a narrative of panic and self-reaffirming “we told you so” feeding the fears of fuel shortages and fossil fuel dependency.

More than a momentary perfect storm, the fossil fuel industry has been forestalling the overdue day of reckoning when the cost of addiction meets the cost of recovery in what will prove to be a truly titanic struggle.

In part one of the “Perfect Storm” we identified the obvious and less talked about costs of our ongoing fossil fuel dependency, beginning with humans modifying the planet’s climate and environment in the name of energy with disastrous consequences to poisoning humans with deadly health outcomes.

“There is a huge opportunity for oil and gas companies, though I’m sure it is not one they would have chosen,” said Robert Buckley, head of relationship development at Cornwall Insight, an energy analysis company. “They have the opportunity to reposition themselves [as crucial to policymakers]. There is going to be a very high price for oil for a very long time, and even the prospect of physical energy shortages.”

Scientists and climate experts warn that oil and gas companies were using the Ukraine emergency to further their own interests, by encouraging governments to prioritize oil and gas production and make decisions now on investments that would have little impact on the current crisis, but would vastly increase fossil fuel use for years to come and further accelerate global warming.

A stark reminder of the likely consequences of further dependence on oil and gas came from the International Energy Agency, reported Tuesday that greenhouse gas emissions had shown the highest ever annual increase in 2021.

The global energy watchdog found that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, which make up the bulk of greenhouse gases, had risen by 6% in 2021 to 36.3bn tons, their highest-ever level, as the global economy rebounded from the Covid-19 pandemic, relying heavily on coal to power the growth. The increase in global CO2 emissions was more than 2bn tons, the largest in history in absolute terms, outweighing the decline in emissions seen during the lockdowns of 2020.


Hawaii’s transition to renewables becomes all the more urgent

Overall, the U.S. consumes use very little Russian oil. In 2021, oil from that country represented just 3% percent of total U.S. crude imports and just 1% of the oil processed by U.S. refineries, according to the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) trade association.

But Hawaii is an outlier among other U.S. states. The state imports several million barrels of Russian crude oil annually, accounting for 10% to 25% of Russian crude shipments to the U.S. depending on the year.  As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine rattles energy markets it is also a wake up call for Hawaii’s clean energy ambitions.

Soaring oil prices—the benchmark Brent and U.S. crude futures are up over 15% since Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine last week, touching at least 10-year highs—come at a particularly inconvenient time for the island state. Its coal-powered AES electrical plant in West Oahu, the biggest plant on its most populated island, is set to shutter in September 2022.

The renewable energy projects meant to replace it face a number of utility-led delays and supply-chain setbacks. Extending the life of state’s oil dependency and adding questionable biomass power plants are part of a fallback plan to keep the lights on for Oahu residents.

“We have warned about leaving the cost of this transition up to world oil markets, and this week’s events are another reminder of the price we pay for oil dependence,” Jay Griffin, chair of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has also led the United States and its European allies to impose severe economic penalties on Russia.

Par Pacific, the largest operating refinery in Hawaii, announced that it would stop buying Russian crude oil for its Kapolei refinery “in light of recent geopolitical events.” “The geopolitical landscape and energy markets are dynamic. We will continually monitor and evaluate our posture on Russian crude over the coming weeks and months,” the company said in a statement.   Par Pacific added that it will look to South America and Canada to help meet fuel production requirements.


Hawaii’s external energy dependences

President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that the U.S. will target “the main artery of Russia’s economy” by banning the import of Russian energy products.” “Putin’s war is already hurting American families at the gas pump,” Biden said. “I’m going to do everything I can to minimize Putin’s price hike here at home.”

Hawaii relies heavily on Russian crude oil and we can expect an outsized share of the pain at the gas pump, specifically impacting the majority of drivers who depend on ICE vehicles for transportation.

“We’re banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy,” Biden said. “That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at U.S. ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine.”

Oil prices were already up before the President’s announcement as post-Covid consumer demand was outstripping short term supplies. And on again, a familiar pattern can seen in the disruptive nature wars have on oil and gas prices. It’s a pattern that is familiar to historians – a  pattern linking modern wars to oil and gas.

In 1940 Japan invaded French Indochina in an effort to embargo all imports into China, including war supplies purchased from the U.S. This move prompted the United States to embargo all oil exports destined for Japan , an action which supported the Imperial Japanese Navy’s global war designs, and provided Japan the perfect excuse to attack Hawaii on December 7th, 1941, which marked the beginning of its undeclared war on the United States.

Now the uncertainties caused by the Russian attack on the Ukraine and corresponding energy supply shocks across Europe (who are more dependent on Russian oil) is fueling higher oil and gas profits and prices for consumers, further adding to inflationary fears born out of an uncertain Covid-impacted global supply chain system.

One year ago, President Biden called climate change “the number one issue facing humanity.” Alongside other world leaders, he made a slew of ambitious pledges to mitigate the use of fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy sources.  A year later, the economic consequences of war on consumer energy costs has once again threatened progress in a global transition to a world operating within a sustainable and clean energy economy, and perhaps a final cure of world’s oil and gas addiction.


An energy addiction Hawaii must break

The cause and effect of regional wars inevitably effect the price of crude, often regionally, and less often on a global scale, as the current Ukrainian war has demonstrated by sending oil prices, already roiled by rising inflation, well over $150 a barrel range.

In addition to increasing the pain at the pump as gas prices rise, Hawaii will see electric bills increase substantially in the coming months following an outright ban on the U.S. import of Russian oil, natural gas and coal amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Hawaii’s state ​utility regulations require that the cost of fuel required for electricity generation be passed onto ratepayers. In short, be prepared for a significant increase in Hawaiian Electric energy bills.

The energy price shocks and impact will be less so for our friends in Kauai whose local utility, KUIC, is much more dependent on the Sun than Russian oil for delivering power to their customers.

Hawaiian Electric Co. Senior Communications Consultant Kristen Okinaka explained the utility’s outlook this way … “Over the next several months, we could be seeing a bill increase of up to 20% on Hawaii Island. As the U.S. and other nations stand with the people of Ukraine and impose powerful economic sanctions on Russia, including the refusal to buy Russian oil, Hawaii will see higher prices at the gas pump and in electric bills.”


Is the Cure Worse than the Disease

Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jennifer Granholm speaking Tuesday at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s national energy storage summit, made comments about the importance of shoring up battery and EV manufacturing and supply chains as a way to accelerate the clean energy transition and ensure energy independence for the United States, made two points that effectively counter the panic arguments of Big Oil’s agents that the US must throw caution-to-the-wind and double down on gas and oil extraction, production, and consumption — in short, feed the beast.

Granholm added, “Clean energy offers us a better way forward, and the only way to get closer to true energy independence [and] national security is by building out the technology at home with a reliable supply chain. Nobody has ever held a country hostage over access to the sun or access to the wind.

Hawaii’s biomass advocates of burning trees and trash for energy purposely fail to recognize the environmental, climate, and health consequences of fuel-combustion as means of generating electricity. Far from the proven zero emissions energy options now available, biomass energy combustion, even when fossil fuels are not involved, represent a dead end path to Hawaii’s clean energy future.

When fuels are burned, the stored carbon and other greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere. An excess buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has caused dramatic changes to Earth’s climate—a trend that will worsen as more fossil fuels are burned on top of 150 years of accumulated levels of GHG emissions, now stored in the Earth’s oceans, forests, and atmosphere.

Scientific and health organizations correctly defined the public health consequences conventional biomass options this way…

“Biomass is far from “clean” – burning biomass creates air pollution that causes a sweeping array of health harms, from asthma attacks to cancer to heart attacks, resulting in emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and premature deaths.”*

*The Allergy & Asthma Network, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Lung Association, American Public Health Association, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, National Association of County & City Health Officials, National Environmental Health Association, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Currently, we have a cadre of local fossil fuel and biofuel stakeholders whose financial interests lay squarely with Hawaii’s fossil fuel future, continue to view the world through a distorted lens closely aligned with energy replacements for coal, oil, and diesel, but which carry with them the energy production-combustion liabilities of greenhouse emissions and polluting byproducts.

Biomass advocates of these same so-called firm energy alternatives to solar, wind, and storage ignore history and brush aside the proven track record of reliability and cost-performance available today with zero emissions on-demand energy options. They position their “firm” energy  arguments as “reliable” energy alternatives to fossil fuels, and ignore the environmental and climate consequences and costs of these so-called “firm” energy alternatives.

Taking an uncertain energy path of so-called “firm energy” alternatives to proven solar, wind, and energy storage options available now may produce less fossil fuel consumption burned for electricity production, but it will also deliver two significant certainties on the path to Hawaii’s acclaimed “clean energy” future;  higher energy costs for our island communities, and a lost opportunity to fully address environmental-climate consequences plaguing our island state and the world today.


The role of the state’s largest utility

Hawaiian Electric is not unique within the utility community who view their rooftop solar customers as power-provisioning competitors.  But world events have shaken this self-serving view, the power circumstances on Oahu have dramatically change with the long-awaited and mandated shut-down of Hawaii’s only coal-fired powerplant, AES, scheduled for this September.

The utility recently announced, and none too soon, that it will offer Oahu households with rooftop solar and batteries an option to aggregate up to 50 megawatts of capacity during peak consumption hours — a rare moment of collaborative outreach for Hawaiian Electric driven by desperation by tapping into its highly underappreciated energy asset, its rooftop solar customers. It was a good start for what should be an on-going and collaborative business model available in all energy markets HE serves, and one that serves the interests of both energy consumers and producers.  Hawaiian Electric claims to also be pursuing a new 20-megawatt battery project and energy-conservation measures – details to follow.

Yes, an “economic” war with Russia is indeed a wake-up call to all that now is the time to complete the transition off our 20th century energy legacy and its unsustainable and a consequential addiction to fossil fuels.

Or we can put our heads in the sand, and wishfully believe we can continue in our 150 years of a dirty energy dependency, now needed more than ever in light of local and global events which are turning our world energy dependency and assumptions upside down.



Addendum

The winners in this titanic battle for survival in a fossil-free fuel world; the United States and the free-world.  The losers, vested global  fossil fuel interests, and the biggest fossil fuel companies in the world, and annual beneficiaries to some of the over $ Six Trillion USD in global taxpayer subsidies —

  • Saudi Arabian Oil Co. ( Saudi Aramco)
    • Revenue (TTM): $1.3 trillion
    • Net Income (TTM): $330.3 billion
    • Market Cap: $7.5 trillion
  • Exxon Mobil Corp. ( XOM)
    • Revenue (TTM): $280.4 billion
    • Net Income (TTM): $23 billion
    • Market Cap: $325.4 billion
  • TotalEnergies SE (TOT)

    • Revenue (TTM): $184.6 billion
    • Net Income (TTM): $16 billion
    • Market Cap: $146.4 billion
  • PetroChina Co. Ltd. ( PTR)*
    • Revenue (TTM): $367 billion
    • Net Income (TTM): $13 billion
    • Market Cap: $95.8 billion
  • China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. ( SNP)*
    • Revenue (TTM): $353.2 billion
    • Net Income (TTM): $14.3 billion
    • Market Cap: $62.3 billion
  • Chevron Corp. (CVX)

    • Revenue (TTM): $155.6 billion
    • Net Income (TTM): $15.6 billion
    • Market Cap: $261.3 billion
  • British Petroleum  PLC (BP)
    • Revenue (TTM): $157.7 billion
    • Net Income (TTM): $7.6 billion
    • Market Cap: $101.6 billion
  • Rosneft (JSC)
    • Rosneft is Russia’s biggest integrated oil and gas company, generating $111.9 billion in revenue during 2019, producing 5.8 million barrels of oil per day
    • The majority of its oil production takes place in Russia, but the company also has ongoing exploration and production activities in Canada, Vietnam, Norway, and Brazil, among other countries.
    • Prior to its initial public offering (IPO) in 2006, all of Rosneft’s shares were owned by the Russian government through its holding company JSC Rosneftegaz, and as of 2019, the government maintains control of 50% of the company’s stock.

BP is abandoning its stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft in an abrupt and costly end to three decades of operating in the energy-rich country, marking the most significant move yet by a Western company in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.  Rosneft accounts for around half of BP’s oil and gas reserves and a third of its production and divesting the 19.75% stake will result in charges of up to $25 billion, the British company said, without saying how it plans to extricate itself.

 

Wind Solar

The Perfect Storm – Part 1

A Nexus of Climate, War, and Energy

Russian oil imports represent less than 3% of US crude oil imports, while Hawaii’s share of Russian crude consumption represents up to one quarter (25%).

The United States moved forward this week with a ban on Russian oil imports, and without the participation of allies in Europe.  Officials said President Biden had struggled for days over the move amid deep concerns about accelerating the already rapid rise in the price of gasoline hitting the pocketbooks of U.S. Consumers, and Hawaii’s residents will be especially hard hit by energy price increases not only in transportation, but in their electricity and water utility bills, services also dependent on fossil fuels.

Hawaii’s residents, more than any other state, will experience  higher fuel and energy costs due to Russia’s war with Ukraine.  It’s no state secret that …“Isolated by the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is the most petroleum-dependent U.S. state”; source: U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Blood for Oil

Oil and it’s cousins natural gas and coal are 19th and 20th century energy essentials that made and still enable the world’s economies.  They are also primary and secondary reasons wars are fought.  Between 1912 and 2010, countries fought 180 times over territories that contained—or were believed to contain—oil or natural gas resources.

The energy conflicts ranged from brief, nonfatal border violations to the two world wars. Many of these clashes—including and not limited to World Wars I and II, were exemplified by the Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay (1932-1935), the Vietnam War (1963-1975), Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait (1990), the U.S. invasion of Iraq (1990 and again in 2003), the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), and numerous international conflicts in which countries fight to obtain and maintain petroleum resources.


Oil, Gas, Coal an Unsustainable Addiction

Fossil fuels—including coal, oil, and natural gas currently supply about 80 percent of the world’s energy.

The foundations of these fossil fuels are finite. Formed millions of years ago from the carbon-rich remains of animals and plants, as they decomposed were compressed and heated underground in various forms of fossil fuel energy: oil, gas, coal.

These same energy resources we take for granted today are also extremely costly to the world’s economies, all humankind, and the environment and corresponding biosphere in which all living things on planet Earth are interdependent — this is not tree-hugger talk, it is scientific fact and a reality of a living world which many humans take for granted.

As an energy sector, oil, gas (aka Big Oil), and secondarily coal,  has had an unprecedented and historic free ride at the public expense. It’s certainly true the fossil fuel sector has delivered on its promise of energy for all, Gas Prices March 2022but at what price; a question only recently asked and answered, as the energy status quo has become increasingly unsustainable by any reasonable measurement.

The Oil and Gas sector has been and remains the world’s most politically powerful and enriched sector of the global economy; otherwise the following would not have been possible:

  • the fossil fuel industrial sector receives in excess of $5.6 Trillion USD (adjusted for inflation) annually in global taxpayer subsidies per World Bank / IMF studies. .
  • the fossil fuel industrial sector operates mostly liability-free from the global effects of its resource extraction, production-transportation, and the consequences of consumers combustion costs to the environment, society (US alone spends over $1 trillion USD public health costs addressing health costs associated with fossil fuel pollution), certain and escalating climate costs (GHG emissions).
  • The EPA reported this year about 8,000 people die prematurely each year because of the fine particles and ozone precursors from air pollution fuel power plants produce, adding that power plants cause about $80 billion a year in health costs.
  • Over 170 million Americans who were adults in 2015 were exposed as children to harmful levels of lead (previously a prime component of gasoline until banned). The contamination of air and water by lead particulates from gasoline emissions has been linked to high blood-lead levels in widespread early childhood lead exposure.  Extensive research has determined that lead exposure has had a significant impact on cognitive development in children between 1940 and 2015.  Leaded gasoline for on-road vehicles was phased out starting in the 1970s, but not finally banned until 1996. The enormous health costs to the public from this fossil fuel pollutant is still being calculated.

  • And then there are the mounting costs directly linked to GHG emissions from a globally fossil-fueled economy.  By some measurement, still too costly to fully calculate as emissions continue to rise, and as do the effects on the planet. Costs are compounding daily from the  effects of a fossil-fueled world in terms of social, economic, climate and environmental costs.   Some experts and governments have limited this quantitative task to just calculating the social cost of carbon (fossil fuels; from extraction to tailpipe, and to power plant emissions), however, today’s climate related costs extend well beyond social impacts.

In short, what happens when climate change factors are baked into the economy and these changes affect economic outcomes, especially hard hit, lower and middle income families.  Cpi Inflation1These impacts go well beyond the price of groceries or a tank of gas, and extend into agricultural productivity.. damages caused by sea level rise (presently about 40% of the world’s population lives within 50 miles of an ocean coastline).. environmental destruction on a global scale.. a decline in human health and labor productivity — and even this is a limited measurement of the impacts on humans and the planet economists use to determine CPI and other economic benchmarks to measure to the full weight and cost of our current fossil fuel dependency.

To understand the true cost of continuing to rely on fossil fuels to power the world, that’s a work in progress, but you don’t need an economist to tell you we’re in trouble. The deeper our understanding, the greater the need for shift action away from humankind’s reliance on GHG / polluting energy sources, and the essential need to limit the destructive consequences that comes with living under past energy assumptions.

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Lock Image

Digital INSECURITY

Breaking News, July 18, 2021 —

Israeli spyware maker NSO ensures no mobile phone is safe and secure.

The New York Times reported today that NSO Group’s “Pegasus” product documentation states that its spyware tech allows for “unlimited access to a target’s mobile devices.”

The company’s promotion claims include its technology can …“remotely and covertly collect information about your target’s relationships, location, phone calls, plans and activities — whenever and wherever they are.”  And, “It leaves no traces whatsoever.”

The NSO Group further asserts that its tracking software and hardware can install itself in any number of ways, including “over the air stealth installation,” and is tailored to text messages and emails, through public Wi-Fi hot spots where NSO software is secretly installed and activated.

Massive data leak reveals Israeli NSO Group&#39;s spyware used to target activists, journalists, and political leaders globally | Amnesty International

For the last six years, the NSO Group’s surveillance and tracking system Pegasus, has been used by a growing number of government agencies around the world to target a range of smartphone users — including iPhones, Androids, and BlackBerry and Symbian systems — and without leaving a trace.

Data leaked suggests the powerful cyberespionage tool is enabling governments to spy on and target news organizations, rights activists, dissidents, journalists, opposition politicians, political dissidents, and academics.

Although such intelligence gathering capabilities have played an integral part for intelligence agencies of United States, Russia, China, Britain, and the EU, what set’s NSO apart is its technology sales to anyone who can pay, including authoritarian regimes that use the spyware for purposes that go far afield of the company’s stated aim: targeting terrorists and criminals

The Pegasus software has been deployed against journalists, rights campaigners and policymakers in Azerbaijan, France, Hungary, India, Morocco. Bahrain,  Mexico, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E.

To learn more about the Pegasus spyware, and its potential relationship to your phone, view this two minute video:  https://youtu.be/2iQuk3p95M8


Originally Reported,  July 6th, 2021 —

Ransomware hackers demand $70m, over 1,500 businesses attacked

The hackers who claimed responsibility for this latest global security breach demanded $70m to restore all the affected businesses’ data, if the targeted retail and medical services victims wanted to mitigate the economic harm of extended business disruptions.

After the recent major oil-gas pipeline disruption impacting most of the US east coast fossil fuel supplies, the White House said this week they were checking to see whether there was any “national risk” posed by this most recent cyber attack targeting retailers. So far there is no evidence of any nationally important organizations being impacted — at this time.



Today we live with the threat of digital attacks and data breaches defined within one of more of these four categories:

  1. State-sponsored attacks designed to disable and disrupt their target countries and gathering intelligence, e.g. the United States, China, Russia, Iran and Israel
  2. Commerce-directed attacks designed to extort money and inflict economic harm (as in this latest reported attack)
  3. Intellectual property theft, historically led by state actors, e.g., China and Russia, and affiliated or independent organized crime entities
  4. Data breaches designed to steal personal and private consumer information from presumably secure private and public sector data warehouses

~ In this article we explore the vulnerabilities most Americans face as participants in a world gone digital ~

Major Private Sector Computer Breaches

It is the latter data breaches this article is focused on — the type of information theft that affects the daily lives and credit ratings of anyone connected to the Internet.   Not long ago, a breach that compromised the data of a few million people would have been big news. Now, breaches that affect hundreds of millions or even billions of people are far too common.

About 3.5 billion people saw their personal data stolen in the past 10 years.

The largest cybersecurity breaches of the past three years, and their effects on companies - TechRepublic

The smallest incident on this list involved the data of a mere 134 million people.

eBay reported an attack exposed its entire account list of 145 million users in May 2014, including names, addresses, dates of birth and encrypted passwords.

Yahoo announced in September 2016 that in 2014 it had been the victim of what would be the biggest data breach in history. The attackers, which the company believed we “state-sponsored actors,” compromised the real names, email addresses, dates of birth and telephone numbers of 500 million users. Yahoo revised that estimate in October 2017 to include all of its 3 billion user accounts.

Four years ago Equifax made headlines for the exposure of private information of millions of people.

Equifax, one of the largest credit bureaus in the US, said on Sept. 7, 2017 that an application vulnerability in one of their websites led to a data breach that exposed about 147.9 million consumers. The breach was discovered on July 29, but the company says that it likely started in mid-May. The breach compromised the personal information (including Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and in some cases drivers’ license numbers) of 143 million consumers; 209,000 consumers also had their credit card data exposed. That number was raised to 147.9 million in October 2017.

Marriott International announced in November 2018 that attackers had stolen data on approximately 500 million customers. The breach initially occurred on systems supporting Starwood hotel brands starting in 2014. The attackers remained in the system after Marriott acquired Starwood in 2016 and were not discovered until September 2018.

The attackers were able to take some combination of contact information, passport number, Starwood Preferred Guest numbers, travel information, and other personal information. The credit card numbers and expiration dates of more than 100 million customers were believed to be stolen.  The breach was eventually attributed to a Chinese intelligence group seeking to gather data on US citizens, the New York Times reported.

The 15 biggest private sector data breaches in recent history, (publicly revealed):

  • Adobe
  • Adult Friend Finder
  • Canva
  • Dubsmash
  • eBay
  • Equifax
  • Facebook
  • Heartland Payment Systems
  • LinkedIn
  • Marriott International
  • My Fitness Pal
  • MySpace
  • NetEase
  • Sina Weibo
  • Yahoo
  • Zynga  — Once a giant of the Facebook gaming scene, Farmville creator Zynga is still one the biggest players in the mobile game space with millions of players worldwide.  The hack stole account information from Zynga’s database of Draw Something and Words with Friends players to the 218 million accounts. Zynga later confirmed that email addresses, salted SHA-1 hashed passwords, phone numbers, and user IDs for Facebook and Zynga accounts were stolen.

Data Breaches


Major Public Sector Computer Breaches

The U.S. (federal) government agencies to state agencies have also been targets of cyber attacks and information theft, revealing to attackers millions of U.S. citizens’ private information through every level of government.

Here’s a list from smallest to largest in terms of the number of individuals affected, the 10 biggest government data breaches include:

  • 10. State of Texas: 3.5 Million Affected (April 2011)
  • 9. South Carolina Department of Revenue: 3.6 Million Affected (October 2012)
  • 8. Tricare: 4.9 Million Affected (September 2011)
  • 7. Georgia Secretary of State Office: 6.2 Million Affected (November 2015)
  • 6. Office of the Texas Attorney General: 6.5 Million Affected (April 2012)
  • 5. Virginia Department of Health Professions: 8.3 Million Affected (May 2009)
  • 4. U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM): 21.5 Million (June 2015)
  • 3. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs: 26.5 Million Affected (May 2006) – A suspected Russian attack
  • 2. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA): 76 Million Affected (October 2009)
  • 1. U.S. Voter Database: 191 Million Affected (December 2015) – A Russian attack was suspected and likely, just ahead of the 2016 Presidential election.

Since 2020 …

Last year, we also began to see the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) impose hefty fines and penalties on organizations, such as those relating to the Equifax breach and Facebook data leaks, to settle charges of improper handling of Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, the overall number of data breaches affecting Americans is even higher, reporting more than 1,108 breaches in the United States in 2020 alone.

There was a whirlwind of scams and fraud activity in 2020. Data breaches continue to expose consumers’ Personally Identifiable Information (PII) at an alarming rate, putting close to three hundred million people at risk of identity theft and fraud. Cybercriminals are also focusing their time on other lucrative cyberattacks, such as ransomware, credential stuffing, malware, and Virtual Private Network (VPN) exploitation.

January 11, 2021: A Chinese social media management company, Socialarks, suffered a data leak through an unsecured database that exposed account details and Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of at least 214 million social media users from Facebook and Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Researchers from the University of Michigan School of Information showed 413 people facts from up to three breaches that involved their own personal information. The researchers found people were not aware of 74% of the breaches.   “This is concerning. If people don’t know that their information was exposed in a breach, they cannot protect themselves properly against a breach’s implications, e.g., an increased risk of identity theft, says doctoral candidate Yixin Zou.


How does all this affect me?

The Have I Been Pwned database engaged in a recent study of global cyber attacks and lists nearly 500 online breaches over the last decade.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, the overall number of data breaches affecting Americans is even higher, reporting more than 1,108 individual data breaches in the United States in 2020 alone.

Of all information that was breached, email addresses were compromised the most, followed by passwords, usernames, IP addresses, and dates of birth.

Most participants expressed moderate concern and were most worried about the leak of physical addresses, passwords, and phone numbers. In response to their compromised accounts, they reported taking action or an intention to change passwords for 50% of the breaches.

“It could be that some of the breached services were considered ‘not important’ because the breached account did not contain sensitive information. However, low concern about a breach may also be explained by people not fully considering or being aware of how leaked personal information could potentially be misused and harm them,” says Peter Mayer, postdoctoral researcher at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

Risks range from credential stuffing—or using a leaked email address and password to gain access to other accounts of the victim—to common identity theft and fraud.

Most of the breaches never made the news, and often they involved little or no notification to affected individuals.   “Today’s data breach notification requirements are insufficient,” Zou says. “Either people are not being notified by breached companies, or the notifications are crafted so poorly that people might get an email notification or letter but disregard it. In prior work, we analyzed data breach notification letters sent to consumers and found that they often require advanced reading skills and obscure risks.”


What Should I do when (not if) my personal information has been digitally stolen?

  1. Check whether accounts were part of a breach using free services such as https://haveibeenpwned.com/ or https://monitor.firefox.com/.
  2. Read breach notifications carefully.
  3. Websites like the FTC’s https://identitytheft.gov/ can help create a recovery plan after identity theft.
  4. Make sure to change the password of the breached account and any others for which the same password was used. Doing this once should be enough unless there is a new breach.
  5. Sign up for identity monitoring services you get offered. Though not perfect, they are better than nothing.
  6. If you experience actual harm from a breach you may also be entitled to further support.
  7. To prevent future data breaches:
  8. Use a unique password for each online account. No one can remember dozens of these so it’s best to use a password manager to store and create strong passwords.
  9. Use two-factor authentication, wherever possible, that requires a code by phone in addition to a username and password in order to access an account.
  10. Freeze credit reports at the three major bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to make it more difficult for identity thieves to cause financial harm.

Vertial Farming 1

No Soil, No Growing Seasons — Just Add Water, Technology, Energy, and Cash

Tech-driven Vertical Farming company Kalera (Euronext Growth Oslo ticker KAL, Bloomberg: KSLLF), announced last December its intention to open a facility in Honolulu, Hawaii in 2021.

Kalera’s Oahu island location will be the Company’s eighth facility announced, making it one of the fastest growing Vertical Farming companies in the United States. It will also be the largest Vertical Farming operation in Hawaii. According to the company, the Honolulu based operation will eventually employ approximately 60 people; the company presently has three management positions open in Glassdoor.

Vertical Farming is a new breed of hydroponic farm, huge and high-tech, and these high-tech farms are popping up in indoor spaces all over America, drawing investors and critics, but is this the answer to Hawaii’s desire to break away from its current and costly imported food dependency?

Vertial Farming 1

Indoor hydroponic farming in the form of “vertical-farming” manipulates light, humidity, temperature and other conditions to grow fresh produce in a totally controlled environment – repeatedly and consistently.

In this new generation of agricultural, vertical hydroponic farms can create precise growing conditions using technological advances like machine-learning algorithms, data analytics and proprietary software systems to coax customized flavors and textures from fruits and vegetables. And they can do it almost anywhere on Earth or even in outer space, and certainly in Hawaii.

Across the United States a new generation of hydroponic greenhouses are popping up, as is the case in an industrial setting near the Hackensack River in Kearny, N.J., where trays filled with sweet baby butterhead lettuce and sorrel that tastes of lemon and green apple are stacked high in a windowless warehouse.

In the Kearny, N.J. example of a new breed of high-tech greenhouses, the site is as large 50 football fields adorned with thousands of LED and power hungry high-pressure sodium lights. Without a teaspoon of soil, nearly 3 million pounds of beefsteak tomatoes grow on 45-feet-high vines whose roots are bathed in nutrient-enhanced rainwater. Other vines hold thousands of small, juicy snacking tomatoes and separately, or vertical rows of popular lettuce varieties.

Vertical-farming has arrived at a pivotal moment in human history.  Swaths of the country and the planet wither in the heat and drought of climate change, and face, with increasing frequency, once-in-century super storms which damage and destroy crops.

At the same time, the demand for locally grown and organic food has never been stronger, as an ongoing pandemic has already demonstrated; the global food supply chain isn’t as resilient as previously believed and now is subject to greater supply uncertainties in face of rising market demand.

Vertical farming advocates site benefits as the way to significantly increase food production while reducing the environmental footprint of traditional forms of agricultural by reducing land, water, chemical, and fertilizer use and increasing overall efficiency. But what are the pros and cons for this new wave of agricultural?


The Advantages of Vertical Farming

  1. Stable crop yields (Hawaii Economic Plus)
  2. Protection from outside conditions  (Hawaii Climate Plus)
  3. Crop yields all year long  (Hawaii Economic Plus)
  4. Protection against pests  (in Hawaii – to be determined)
  5. Fewer crop losses (Hawaii Climate Resiliency Plus)
  6. Increase in profits (Hawaii – to be determined)
  7. Protection from animals & invasive plant species (Hawaii Plus)
  8. Ability to grow all kinds of plants (Hawaii – to be determined)
  9. Savings in water (Hawaii Climate Plus)
  10. Vertical farming can be fully organic (in Hawaii – operator dependent)
  11. Fewer crop imports needed (major Hawaii Plus)
  12. More efficient land use (major Hawaii Plus)
  13. Less habitat destruction (major Hawaii Plus)
  14. Energy generation through composting (Hawaii – to be determined)

The Disadvantages of Vertical Farming

  1. Expert needed to set up a vertical farming project (added Hawaii Cost factors for imported expertise)
  2. High upfront costs  (add in local Hawaii Cost factors)
  3. Significant operational costs (add in local Hawaii Cost Negative)
  4. High energy consumption  (add in local Hawaii energy costs and a major negative for Climate mitigation goals)
  5. High labor costs  (add in local Hawaii Cost factors)
  6. Significant maintenance efforts (add in local Hawaii Cost factors)
  7. Carelessness could lead to a spread of pests (in Hawaii – to be determined)
  8. Pollination problems  (in Hawaii – to be determined)
  9. May need official permissions (in Hawaii – to be determined)
  10. Technology not mature yet (to be determined)
  11. Infrastructure regarding processing of crops is missing  (add in local Hawaii Cost factors)
  12. Only suitable for certain kinds of plants  (in Hawaii – to be determined)
  13. Plants may contain fewer nutrients  (in Hawaii – to be determined)
  14. Technology issues may cause huge problems  (to be determined)
  15. People in rural areas may lose their livelihood (potential Social Negative – TBD)

iFarm is but one example of a growing number of companies claiming to address the operating and environmental costs associated with Vertical farming.

Verical Farming Hardware

One of the advantages of the iFarm fertigation system is that it allows to mix any number of nutrient solutions for a variety of crops (salads, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries and edible flowers). This is achieved by adding six mother liquors (concentrates of nutritional ingredients thinned to get solutions with a certain number of nutrients) to the system at a time.

Not everyone is on board.

Huge vertical farming  operations grow produce in nutrient-rich water, not the healthy soil that many people believe is at the heart of both deliciousness and nutrition.

For vertical farming to create a virtual indoor environment which emulates nature without any downside, investors and farm operators face, beyond the initial set-up costs, is the concentrated 24×7 consumption of large amounts of power.

Vertical farming opponents also point to clear evidence that the farming method can consume vast amounts of electricity.  That is major barrier of entry for a state with nation’s highest cost electricity and one that is dedicated to a transition to 100% clean (zero emissions) and locally produced electricity.

There is nothing to prevent vertical farming from becoming carbon-neutral and power self-sufficient by installing onsite solar generation and storage, but add costs and requires added facility site space, and in Hawaii that means likely outside the traditional urban and industrial settings of this type of farming operation, and on land already zoned for agricultural, but potentially without the necessary infrastructure to support this type of high-tech operation.

One example of Vertical Farming operating components:

  • LED lamps to illuminate the farm. As vertical farms are situated indoors, you don’t need to rely on sunlight for plant growth, including white, red, blue, yellow and green spectra, to create optimal growing conditions.
  • Air conditioning system to circulate and cool the air
  • Osmotic water purification system
  • A fertigation unit, to prepare a nutrient-rich solution for plants.
  • Pumps to deliver fertilizers to plants
  • Air humidifiers are required during the first few months of operation. Once plants are mature, they’re able to maintain appropriate humidity levels naturally and air humidifiers are no longer needed.
  • Air dryers are used on larger farms where mature plants process more water.
  • Controllers and automation systems maintain a stable microclimate, control mixing solutions and facilitate plant growth with minimal human input.
  • Lamps used to illuminate the farm interior
  • Computers and communications used to log and manage operations remotely.
  • Webcams to monitor plants, and detect growth deviations or diseases using computer vision technology.
For Vertical Farming operations, technology and operating experience continue to evolve into greater efficiencies, with improvements in power consumption at top priority.
Vf 2In the case of the iFarm system, the company claims electricity consumption is divided into LED lamps (65%), air conditioners (20%) and dehumidifiers (10%) – which accounts for 95% of electricity usage, while the remaining devices use less than 5%.  No total kWh power consumption comparisons to production examples were provided by the company.

iFarm’s web site states: “The amount of electricity your vertical farm uses will depend on exactly which crops you choose to grow. We’ve calculated how much electricity it takes to grow light-loving Romaine lettuce, shade-loving rocket and garden strawberries to give you an example of energy usage on vertical farms.”

Reducing energy consumption makes your vertical farm more environmentally friendly and has the added bonus of reducing your operating costs. By using iFarm technologies to manage your farm, you can significantly reduce the amount of electricity you use…”  For more information on this see: https://ifarm.fi/blog/2020/12/how-much-electricity-does-a-vertical-farm-consume 


The Real Organic Project offers an alternative to vertical farming without the environmental and economic baggage.

OrganicOrganic farming, put simply, is returning organic matter to the soil so that the life in the soil cycles nutrients back to the crop. Highly soluble fertilizers kill much of the life in the soil, whereas organic matter feeds it. Organic farming is much more closely aligned with Hawaii’s traditional (non-corporate) farming practices. Organic produce, for example, merits a premium price in the retail store sales and higher profits for organic farmers.

Real Organic Project claims the results include vastly less soil erosion, vastly better water retention, less drought, less flooding, less water pollution, better carbon sequestration, and a more resilient and reliable agricultural system.

Organically grown food benefits include:

  • No GMOs
  • Supports healthy soil
  • More nutrition and flavor
  • Supports, rather harms pollinators
  • Healthier working environment for farmers
  • Resistance to pests and diseases
  • Natural Fertilizers are created on-site
  • Opportunity for specializing
  • Is climate-friendly

For consumers, organic grown crops offer beyond the obvious health benefits to themselves and the environment in which spraying poisons for food is not required, organics eliminate the agriculture’s petrochemical and biotech dependencies, which among other negatives, contributes to global biodiversity destruction.

Dave Chapman, a Vermont farmer and the executive director of the Real Organic Project is passionate about what he does and describes today’s Vertical Farming this way;  “Hydroponic production is not growing because it produces healthier food. It’s growing because of the money. Anyone who frames this as food for the people or the environment is just lying.”

Henry Curtis

Hawai`i Mainstream Media; a megaphone for Hu Honua Narrative

Hu Honua History Lesson

Hu Honua proposed burning trees to generate electricity to be sold to Hawai`i Electric Light Company (HELCO) in 2008.

The Public Utilities Commission issued HELCO a waiver from competitive bidding for the project in 2008 and approved the HELCO-Hu Honua contract in 2013.

Hu Honua failed to meet milestones.

HELCO terminated their contract due to Hu Honua missing required deadlines.

HELCO submitted a Revised and Amended Power Purchase Contract to the PUC in 2017. The PUC approved it.

Life of the Land challenged the decision. The Hawai`i Supreme Court upheld the appeal, mandating that the PUC must consider life cycle greenhouse gas emissions.

HELCO filed an amended agreement to the PUC in 2017. The PUC approved it and Life of the Land filed an appeal. The Hawaii Supreme Court upheld the appeal in 2019.

The PUC rejected the Waiver from Competitive Bidding for the proposed Hu Honua Bioenergy plant on the Big Island in 2020, justifying its decision on the Hawaii Supreme Court`s 2019 ruling supporting Life of the Land`s appeal.

Hu Honua appealed.

The Hawai`i Supreme Court upheld the Hu Honua appeal in May 2021 on the grounds that the PUC should not have cited the court remand decision for the reason the waiver for competitive bidding was rejected.

The proceeding has been remanded back to the PUC.

Going Forward

The PUC may now again reject the waiver, but if it does so, it can`t be based on the court`s 2019 remand. The PUC may decide that the waiver is no longer valid — game end for Hu Honua…

There are two key decision points in the public interest the PUC has yet to consider in any Hu Honua approval to proceed decision:

  1. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and
  2. the cost competitiveness of the Hu Honua PPA which is greater twice the ratepayer cost of solar+storage zero emissions energy options.

Although not widely reported, the Court’s ruling this week concluded with the following: “…The (PUC) hearing must also include express consideration of GHG emissions that would result from approving the Amended PPA, whether the cost of energy under the Amended PPA is reasonable in light of the potential for GHG emissions, and whether the terms of the Amended PPA are prudent and in the public interest, in light of its potential hidden and long-term consequences.”


Hawai`i Media Megaphone

HPR: Hawaii Supreme Court Ruling Advances Big Island Biomass Energy Plant

Hawaii Tribune-Herald: Parties pleased with ruling: State Supreme Court remands Honua Ola case to PUC by John Burnett

Big Island Video News: Hawaii Supreme Court Vacates PUC’s Hu Honua Order, Remands Case – The power purchase agreement between Hu Honua and Hawaiian Electric remains vacated, and the 2017 competitive bidding waiver remains valid and in force, the court rules.

Hawaii News Now: PUC to reconsider approval of halted bioenergy project after high court ruling

Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Big Island renewable energy plant wins appeal by Dave Segal

Pacific Business News: Hawaii Supreme Court ruling gives Hu Honua biomass project new life

HPR – Hawai`i Public Radio: The Conversation.

Catherine Cruz: “The Hawai`i Supreme Court has remanded a case involving a big island bioenergy plant back to Public Utilities Commission. We talked to Warren Lee, the head of Honua Ola, formerly known as Hu Honua, about what this could mean for the green energy project which has been delayed for two years because of legal challenges. The company planned to burn eucalyptus trees or albizia trees and other invasive species to provide electricity for the community. It’s been mired in the courts because of an issue with greenhouse gases and legal technicalities. Here`s Warren.”

Warren Lee: “The State Supreme Court`s ruling was a major milestone for us. Yeah we hope the PUC will look at the issues that were outlined by the remand and move forward with us so that we can provide firm renewable energy to the Big Island.”

Catherine Cruz: “How many workers do you have right now as this case works its way through the courts?

Warren Lee: “Well we have approximately 30, 34, 35 positions within Honua Ola itself. Then we would have contractors do the harvesting, planting, the re=planting, the re-growth, the hauling, and the ancillary services. So, it comes out to a couple hundred at least.”

Catherine Cruz: “So, have things just been at a standstill?

Warren Lee: “Pretty much, we have slowly been doing construction. We are 99% complete.  A few months doing very minimal construction activities right now.”

Catherine Cruz: “And what do you believe that this Supreme Court decision does for your case?

Warren Lee: “Well, I think it makes it very clear what the Supreme Court remanded a couple of years ago that the issue of greenhouse gas reduction be addressed fully, and to let the participants like Life of the Land, participate fully. So I think it reaffirmed their order from two years ago. So, we`re back to where we were and we hope we can get it done with the Public Utilities Commission and the parties are interested, so that we can move forward. Get the plant online.”

Catherine Cruz: “Have you had a chance to check in with the PUC, any idea you know what the schedule, is going be like for the summer or how soon you can get in before them.”

Warren Lee: “Yeah, well we haven`t, well the order came out this morning. So the ball is with the Public Utilities Commission now to set the procedural schedule. They originally set up a procedural schedule two years ago where we were going through the opening statements, updated the project, did the greenhouse gas studies that were submitted by ourselves, and one was submitted by Hawaiian Electric or HELCO. So we hope, they`ll pick it up from there and move forward and satisfy the remand of the issue that the Supreme Court laid out for the Public Utilities Commission and the parties.”

Catherine Cruz: “So you think then, this will give everybody a chance to weigh the arguments?

Warren Lee: “Well, I think it will give everybody a chance to understand why we`re saying that we are going to be carbon negative, or carbon neutral when our goal is to be carbon negative at the end of the 30-year purchase power agreement which is on the table. So everybody that`s part of the evidentiary hearing is to present that, which is the study that we filed, and to answer any questions that may come up.”

Catherine Cruz: “Explain how this legal issue, this legal cloud, has affected the project there?

Warren Lee: “Back in 2017, when the amended purchase power agreement was approved by the Public Utilities Commission, Hawaiian Electric did present a greenhouse gas reduction plan, and based on the appeal, we`ve lost, or been delayed, say about two years. From the plant operating. So, there is a cost, it`s a huge investment that`s been made by the ownership, and we just want to be sure that we can get this plant running and provide biomass renewable green energy in Hawai`i. And the delay hasn`t helped.

Catherine Cruz: “What about the workers?

Warren Lee: “We`ve kept the workers on, going through the legal processes. You know some have left for other jobs, opportunities, but the core group, approximately 30 remain on the payroll, they’re trained and ready to go, ready to operate. We need to finish out the Construction which is 99% done. Then we need to commission the plant. That will be done once we get through the purchase power agreement process, Public Utilities Commission.”

Catherine Cruz: “If all goes well, what`s your hope?

Warren Lee: “A lot of it depends on back to your original question of when the PUC`s is going to handle this. We`ve been waiting so long and with the Supreme Court ruling, if we can get the purchase power agreement and all the processes within the next several months, I think there`s a good chance that we could be online by maybe the end of this year or early next year.”

Catherine Cruz: “How much construction needs to be completed?

Warren Lee: “Well more specifically what we need to do, is we need to finish up a couple of our cooling water wells. One of them is almost ready for testing. And then we need to submit the application, the permits to operate to the Department of Land and Natural Resources and also other permits with the Department of Health and just do the remaining work and then commission the plant. Commissioning a new generating power plant is not an everyday easy task. It could take a while.”

Catherine Cruz: “That was part of a conversation we had with Warren Lee, yesterday, afternoon, following the issuance of the ruling by the Hawai`i Supreme Court. Lee again hopes that the second opportunity for the PUC can clear the way for the plant to complete its construction and get the necessary permits to begin operating, Lee hopes that it can happen by the end of this year or early next year. The PUC says it is not clear at this point how soon it can re-schedule the new hearing.”