Coronavirus: An Update; by the Numbers

Significant Pandemic DevelopmentsCovdi 19 What We Don't Know

US surpasses landmark of 20 million coronavirus cases on New Year’s Day

US has almost twice as many confirmed coronavirus cases as the next worst-hit country, India, and almost 350,000 have died as hospitals, undertakers, vaccine administrators and ordinary families struggled across the nation.

  • More than 10,000 Americans died in the last three days of 2020 as the year finished with the pandemic, which has never been under control in the US since the start of the outbreak last January, breaking all the wrong world records.
  • The US has almost twice as many confirmed coronavirus cases as the next worst-hit country, India. The south Asian nation has 10.2m cases among a population of 1.3 billion, whereas the US on Friday reached 20m infections with a population of 328m.
  • Almost 350,000 Americans have died because of Covid-19, according to the coronavirus resource center at Johns Hopkins University, by far the world’s highest death toll. The country with the second most fatalities is Brazil, where 195,000 people have died from coronavirus.
  • California, whose second wave of infections this autumn and winter has proved to be a sickness tsunami, morgues in some places are overflowing and undertakers are turning away grieving families, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Hawaii ends 2020 with a daily record of new COVID-19 cases and three more deaths

Health officials reported 188 new COVID-19 cases statewide on Thursday, including 135 on Oahu, 27 in Maui County, 14 on the Big Island and 12 residents who were diagnosed out of the state. There were three new fatalities reported but no details.

  • To date, 21,397 people in Hawaii have been diagnosed with COVID-19, including 1,619 in the past two weeks.
  • As of Wednesday, 60% of the state’s 338 available ICU hospital beds were in use, including 17 COVID-19 patients.
  • There have been four virus clusters connected to church activities in December. Two of the clusters are still being investigated by the state’s contact tracers and have been linked to at least 50 cases.
  • Roughly 15% of cases diagnosed in December were associated with travel, with the bulk of cases in Hawaii being spread in the community.
  • The official state death toll from the virus is 288. Civil Beat calculates at least 293 people have died from the disease in Hawaii, including five deaths on Hawaii island that are still pending medical verification by the state.

  • The US passed 20 million cases and a record number of deaths more than 3,800 in a single day to conclude 2020..

  • U.S. Coronavirus Cases:  20,445,654
  • U.S. Deaths: 354,215
  • Recovered:  12,125,806

Us Deaths


The Federal Government’s vaccine distribution program; Operation Wrap Speed, slows to Impulse

Federal supply chain questions concerning a scheduled 30 – 40 % reduction in the second round vaccine distribution to the states remains unanswered.

Manufacturer Pfizer claims vaccines are ready for shipment which sows confusion within the Federal response.

Bloomberg reported, Pfizer said it is having no issues producing or delivering its vaccine, however, confusion over how many doses will be available has built up in recent days.

The U.S.’s original order for 100 million doses initially called for 20 million a month beginning in November. But shipments only began arriving in December, and Pfizer isn’t giving the U.S. its November allotment right away, according to the senior administration official. Instead of doubling December’s shipment to catch up, Pfizer is spreading the 20 million that was due in November over the first four months of 2021, the official said.

Pfizer has so far allocated about 10.4 million doses to the U.S., the official said. From the first tranche of 6.4 million, 500,000 doses were set aside as a reserve and 2.9 million were shipped out this week. The remaining 2.9 million will be sent in three weeks as the second dose of the vaccine’s two-shot regimen. The U.S. will begin delivering a second allocation of 4 million doses next week, again sending out half while holding back half for second doses.

The rapid-fire distribution of millions of doses challenges states

Many states have asked for more time between rounds to determine where to send them. Additionally, the U.S. won’t promise states shipments until the supply has been confirmed by Pfizer. That has stretched timelines, sowed confusion within an allocation process spanning Tuesday to Friday.  Distribution of the vaccine is grinding forward over the weekend, and deliveries are expected to begin the following Monday, an administration official said.

FDA grants emergency-use approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech, and Moderna vaccine passes panel recommendation, now awaits FDA green light to proceed

The harrowing milestone comes as two vaccine candidates have cleared FDA regulatory hurdle and began shipping to all 50 states on Sunday.

Moderna Vaccine

The coronavirus vaccine made by Moderna is highly protective, according to new data released on Tuesday, setting the stage for its emergency authorization this week by federal regulators and the start of its distribution across the country.

The data included in a review by the F.D.A. confirms Moderna’s earlier assessment that its vaccine had an efficacy rate of 94.1 percent in a trial of 30,000 people. Side effects, including fever, headache and fatigue, were unpleasant but not dangerous, the agency found.

The Food and Drug Administration intends to authorize use of the vaccine on Friday, people familiar with the agency’s plans said. The decision would give millions of Americans access to a second coronavirus vaccine beginning as early as Monday.

Distribution of about six million doses could then begin next week, significantly adding to the millions of doses already being shipped by Pfizer and BioNTech, the companies that developed the first coronavirus vaccine given emergency clearance just last Friday.


Moderna Vaccine

Pfizer-BioTech Vaccine

Late Friday, the FDA granted emergency use approval for the Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. That followed an advisory panel backed the Pfizer vaccine Thursday evening.

The first coronavirus vaccine shipments have left Pfizer as of Saturday morning. They should arrive at destinations on Monday-Wednesday for vaccinations.

The CDC has recommended giving priority to health-care workers and nursing homes, but states can distribute the coronavirus vaccine as they see fit

The first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine left a facility in Michigan early Sunday, with UPS and FedEx teaming up to ship them to all 50 states for distribution.  The first of nearly three million doses of the first Covid-19 vaccine were packed in dry ice and put on trucks at a Pfizer plant in Kalamazoo, Mich., on Sunday morning, destined for hundreds of distribution centers, the most ambitious vaccination campaign in American history.

Hawaii and most other states are largely planning to follow C.D.C. recommendations about who gets vaccinated first: health care workers at high risk of exposure and residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, a population that has died from the virus at disproportionately high rates.

U.S. records 3,293 deaths in a single day, total US Covid-19 deaths reach 318,522 – both new highs

According to the Worldometer data tracker, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. topped 16.7 million on Monday. Total virus-related deaths rose past 306,000.

Us Cases 12 18The cumulative total of worldwide Covid-19 cases confirmed since the start of the outbreak topped 72.7 million Monday, with more than 1.62 million virus-related deaths.

After weeks of surging infections and rising levels of virus hospitalizations, the United States recorded more than 3,000 covid-19 deaths in a single day, a pandemic record.

Yet the new death record, as well as a new high of more than 106,000 covid-19 patients in hospitals, are grim reminders of the pandemic’s devastating toll.

The coronavirus will kill more people in the United States every day for the next two to three months than died in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, or Pearl Harbor, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said Thursday.

The stark warning came as the United States set a harrowing record for fatalities for the second day in a row, surpassing 3,300 deaths Thursday and bringing the U.S. death toll to more than 291,800.

It took 2½ months for the virus to claim its first 50,000 Americans, then just one month for the death toll to climb to 100,000. The pace of death eased somewhat with warmer weather and more-concerted efforts to encourage mask use. But with the arrival of autumn and the holiday season, the virus surged anew in California, Texas and the South, and then in the Plains and the Midwest.

Few safe havens remain.  Some consider Hawaii’s lower case count as one example of them.

Between late September and mid-November, the death tally climbed from 200,000 to 250,000. Now it has nearly reached the 300,000 marker in less than half that time — even though treatment of the most severe cases has improved.

Latest Hawaii State Pandemic Data


Hi Covid 19 Summary

Hawaii Re-Opens Amid National Pandemic Surge

The state has reopened to tourism and allowed incoming travelers from out of state who have tested negative for the coronavirus to avoid quarantine as of Nov. first.  Gov. David Ige previously acknowledged that the state’s partners in a COVID-19 testing program for trans-Pacific travelers won’t test children younger than 12.   Ige said untested children of families who arrive in Hawaii will be subject to a 14-day quarantine, even if their parents arrive with a negative test.

 “We are focused on enabling more trans-Pacific travelers to come,” Ige said. “It won’t be the ideal situation. It’s not going to be accessible to everybody who wants to travel.”

Ige said he’s not ready to lift the 14-day interisland travel quarantine.  However, the state’s so-called quarantine measures are limited by totally inadequate testing and enforcement resources. Beyond a few Oahu hotels working with DOH, it’s strictly an honor system, and people don’t fly to Hawaii for vacation only to stay inside their rooms for two weeks.

Right Time to Reboot Tourism?

Hawaii appears ready to fall into the same pattern seen elsewhere around the world, but with one significant difference. As we open up for business during the middle of a global pandemic, cases and deaths will skyrocket, but unlike the mainland, Hawaii’s woefully lacking medical infrastructure will collapse under the weight of escalating hospitalizations — worst yet, the state’s population living on outer islands will be hardest hit, already facing a chronic shortage of doctors and inadequate medical care.

US Economy Hammered by Pandemic

  • Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, was rebuked on Thursday at a congressional oversight hearing over his management of the economic relief effort
  • Mnuchin is facing criticism from lawmakers over his decision to pull the plug on five of the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending programs Dec Unemployment Claims
  • Scrutiny of Mr. Mnuchin’s handling of the programs comes as he is negotiating with Congress over another $900 billion economic relief bill that lawmakers hope to pass before the end of the year


Trump Administration Plays Politics with Americans’ Livelihoods

This was a political decision — one intended to hamstring the incoming administration even as Covid deaths are spiking and the economic recovery is slowing,” Bharat Ramamurti, an appointed member of the Congressional Oversight Commission, said at Thursday’s hearing. “Let me put it this way: Does anyone think the Treasury would have ended these programs if Donald Trump were re-elected?”

The monthly jobs report released on Friday showed that hiring slowed sharply in early November and that some of the sectors most exposed to the pandemic, like restaurants and retailers, cut jobs for the first time since the spring.

More up-to-date data from private sources suggests that the slowdown has continued or deepened since the November survey was conducted.


Dec Job Report


More than four million people left the work force entirely from February to November, meaning they are neither working nor actively seeking a job. (To be counted as unemployed, a person must have looked for a job in the last four weeks or be on a temporary layoff.)

Several of the economists we spoke to mentioned the dip in labor force participation as a cause for concern — and a factor that can contribute to a falling unemployment rate, without people actually finding work.

Nearly a year after the coronavirus outbreak, the full impact of the pandemic on the U.S. economy remains unclear. Some of the most obvious indicators are in conflict: As some companies report enormous profits, nearly 10 million more Americans are now unemployed compared with last February, and over one million filed new state and federal unemployment claims last week.

Are we still in the early stages of a long recession, or will the rollout of vaccines mean we’ll soon see the end of a short-term crisis? How much are people suffering now, and for how long will the effects of the past 10 months persist?

Only time will tell …


Out Of Work Stats


US Hospitals stretched beyond means

  • US suffers one Covid death every 30 seconds, while global cases now exceed 65 million.

    In the US, on average 3,000 Americans are dying each day from COVID-19 exposure, according to Johns Hopkins University – one American death every 30 seconds.  

  • With hospitals slammed by covid-19, doctors and nurses plead for action by governors.

  • With few options left, overwhelmed doctors and other caregivers are appealing directly to governors for relief from the staggering increases in hospitalized covid-19 patients as the virus surges across the country.   Without a new relief package from Washington, governors have adopted a variety of approaches to grapple with the runaway virus while trying to keep parts of their economies alive. That includes allowing some businesses, such as restaurants and gyms, to remain open with limited capacity and other restrictions.

Staffing in U.S. hospitals, particularly among nurses, has reflected a patchwork of local shortages in recent years, with a ready reserve of traveling and per-diem personnel deployed in response to sudden demand — a flu outbreak here, a hurricane there, a strike elsewhere.

But now, the once-in-a-century pandemic is exposing the liabilities of this just-in-time, cost-conscious approach at some hospitals, chronic staff shortages in others and the toll of the pandemic on an exhausted workforce.

Global COVID-19 cases near 5 mn: Johns Hopkins

In this fall surge of infections, supplies and equipment for patients and protective gear for health-care workers are not as scarce as they were early in the pandemic, though sporadic shortages still exist, especially in some rural areas.

Last year, a little more than 47,000 registered nurses worked temporary jobs, and 17,000 licensed practical nurses did the same, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is a small fraction of the 3.7 million nurses from both categories who were employed last year.

The health-care system last year spent $6.1 billion on travel nurses, a figure that will rise by at least 10 percent this year, said Barry Asin, president of Staffing Industry Analysts, a research firm that specializes in health-care staffing. While covid-related hiring of supplemental health-care workers is skyrocketing, employment of other health-care workers is down sharply because of the cancellation of elective procedures and other care, Asin said.

The impact on patients in the current coronavirus surge has yet to be determined, but everyone is fearful. Overstretched staffs cannot give patients the attention they typically receive under normal conditions, whether they are in the emergency room, intensive care or the covid-19 wards that make up ever-larger portions of hospitals amid the crisis.

There is little independent research on the impact temporary nurses have on the quality of care. A 2012 study of a single hospital found they had neither a positive nor negative effect on patient outcomes.

Only one state, California, mandates staff-to-patient ratios. Standards are written into some union contracts. But in many places, it is up to nurses to speak up when they feel conditions are unsafe, which can endanger their jobs, said Jean Ross, co-president of National Nurses United, a nurses labor union.

In the current circumstances, some nurses feel as if they are just trying to survive the onslaught.

“We are just completely overrun,” said Rachel Heintz, who works in the emergency department at CHI St. Alexius with McKamey. Both are stewards for the labor union.

Hospital President Kurt R. Schley said there are vacancies in the emergency department and acknowledged that the surge has created “an additional strain to a well-recognized nursing shortage in our community and the region.”

Covid 19 Deaths



The United States has now suffered 19% of the world’s deaths from Covid-19, despite accounting for only 4% of the world’s population. 



Editorial — 49 Reasons

Forty Nine Reasons all in a line, All of them good ones, All of them Lies ... (49 Bye-Byes, CSN).

The Hawaiian word for truth is ʻoiaʻiʻo.  

If you’re keeping score, Donald Trump has lied an average of 13 times a day since becoming president.  Within the last two months the average number of lies and misleading statements per day has grown to 22.

The latest fact check analysis (mid-October) on Trump’s public assertions and statements, Trump had made 13,435 false or misleading claims since taking over the oval office, according to the Fact Checker’s database which analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement he has uttered.

Why does any of this matter?  The plain truth is that truth matters, facts and empirical evidence matter, and preserving the morality of Truth Telling by our leaders and among ourselves matters.

False or misleading claims from Trump range the gambit of issues from trade, the state of the economy, the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, to claims and actions targeting his so-called “political enemies”.  The list grows daily with each new tweet; most recently the President focusing on re-writing the facts of the Ukraine investigation and playing a one-sided Executive Branch game of ignoring legal processes and their responsibilities requiring cooperation with House of Representatives investigation of the President and his agents operating in the name of (and behalf of) Trump, not the United States.

One possible explanation for the increase in the number of Trump’s lies is that as the president has continued to lie with relative political impunity, the President holds the majority of elected Republican officials’ within “his party” hostage. In our two party system, mTrump Big Mouthany Republicans have also grown increasingly desensitized to Trump’s actions, and have adopted an instinctive reluctance about saying that which they know to be severely exaggerated or flat-out untrue.

Facts appear to have little room in firmly rooted beliefs that have lead to a division in the Country’s thought processes. What should be more about facts, truth telling and well-throughout actions by our Commander and Chief, instead are replaced with questionable actions or even criminal acts that have become a partisan issue, rather than self-evaluation by the American people of their President, their Country, and their fellow Americans…

Overall, fewer than 3 out of 10 Americans believe Trump’s most common inaccuracies, indicating that he has developed a reputation for an absence of trustworthiness due to the transparency of some of his falsehoods.

Research of modern day truth telling and lies reveals more about us than just our take, our interpretation, our acceptance or rejection of Trump tales. Research also suggests that social media and other media have become the new arbiter of what is true and what is false, and what is a mostly partisan view of the world.

Many in our nation have mostly forsaken the traditional measurements of facts and reality checks that validate public policy for the convenience of instant messaging, dumb down reasoning, and foreign intervention in our democracy to define what is true and what is false.   Media technology is only a tool, not a replacement for thinking, researching, and doing the work to determine the truth, its certainly harder than just forsaking our citizen responsibilities for a quick tweet — all of which influences how we respond (vote) to the policies and the actions our leaders that matters.

If the over 240 years of the Republic, once considered an experiment in democracy, is worth anything then it is certainly worth taking personal responsibility for the ideal we commonly refer to as “living in the land of the free”.

We should never forget that with freedom comes responsibility and the fulfillment of our nation’s ideal:   We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…

What’s next for this President

As of Thursday morning, Hawaii time (10-31-19) the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution  that formalizes the next steps in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. The final vote was 232-196, with former Republican and current independent Rep. Justin Amash voting yes and two Democrats voting no.

“Sadly, this is not any cause for any glee or comfort. This is something that is very solemn, that is something prayerful and that we had to gather so much information to take us to this next step,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the House floor prior to the vote, adding, “Every member should support allowing the American people to hear the facts themselves, that’s really what this vote is about.”

At her weekly news conference, Pelosi was asked whether she believes Thursday’s vote will do anything to diminish the belief of the White House that the Democratic-led process is illegitimate and unfair.   “No. The facts are what they are,” Pelosi said. “They can try to misrepresent them, but the fact is, this is a process that has expanded opportunity for them (Republicans) to show any evidence that they believe proves the innocence of the president.”

The impeachment process rules the Democratic majority is now following is same the process and rules previously established by Republicans during the President Clinton impeachment and represent a process that even Pelosi acknowledges “…are fairer than anything that has gone before.”

The go-forward impeachment vote today is all about the Trump–Ukraine scandal and represents our government at its best and at its worst.  It’s an ongoing political tug-of-war, with a fact-finding and witness-led investigation now underway by the House of Representatives counter-balanced by efforts to derail the investigation by the White House and its allies.

The investigation is focused on determining the facts surrounding efforts by U.S. President Donald Trump to coerce Ukraine and other foreign countries into providing damaging narratives about 2020 Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden, and to discredit the well-established findings of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.

Trump’s actions included blocking Congressionally-approved and mandated payment of $400 million military aid package essential to Ukraine’s defense against a Russian invasion and that aid would only be released by Trump in exchange for quid pro quo cooperation from Ukraine’s President Zelensky.  A number of contacts were established between the White House and the government of Ukraine outside State Department channels, and culminating in a July 25, 2019 phone call between Trump and Ukraine’s newly elected President Zelensky.

Credible witnesses have testified that Trump apparently enlisted surrogates within and outside his official administration, including his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General Bill Barr, to pressure Ukraine and other foreign governments into supporting an alt-reality conspiracy theory that supports Trump’s 2020 campaign re-election narrative.



Politics Trump Truth: 45 problems, and he’s every one

Is the whistleblower a traitor, or the CIA doing its job to protect our republic from all enemies foreign and domestic? One of our checks and balances is 1.4 million public servants (the deep-state, so hated by extremists) quietly doing their jobs no matter how foolishly the elected members of government behave.

Trump Whistleblower

It was only fair to give the “very stable genius” a try. There are so many opportunities for ridicule that it’s too easy. Has 45 accomplished anything? Oh yeah, built a wall nobody wanted, with other people’s money. Is he a Reagan or a Hitler, or just Mussolini to Putin’s Hitler?

A statement is a lie if the teller knows it is not true. Does 45 think anything said is automatically true? Is that a delusion (dementia)? What about changing position in mid-sentence apparently oblivious to the contradiction, and denying saying things captured on video. Is “fake-news” a Joseph Goebel’s big-lie? A blatant falsehood, repeated often enough to gain credibility?

The depth of ignorance, normal adults cannot fathom, for example: “We are going to mine clean-coal.” “Windmills cause cancer.” Immigration proposals that would horrify a teen. Not knowing the difference between right and wrong is the legal definition of insanity. Why take credit for improved economics that were obviously a continuation of earlier international trends?

Why complain that the deep-state does not cooperate? Is this misunderstanding the genius of checks and balances that keep America, the world’s oldest continuous national government, stable and prevents concentration of power? Ours is a lawful government of the people, by the people, for the people; not government of the people for the president.

Is there evidence of any input or knowledge before flamboyantly signing an incomprehensible tax bill slapped together in secret, that will reduce his own tax? “We will be doing tax returns on a postcard,” when the tax code is 70,000 pages?

His core appeal is to those with minimum critical thinking skills. He said it — I believe it — that settles it. They ignore evidence and accept baseless theories.

The cost of the Mar-a-Lago lifestyle is overwhelming; much public cost goes into his own pocket. Accommodating dignitaries, and staff at expensive profitable resorts, instead of government facilities! Each junket of the Air-Force-One armada costs us millions. Shocking sexual antics, why hold entertainers to a higher standard than the president? Can the king do no wrong?

Leadership that resembles a remedy that caused a headache so bad that when it wore off, the patient was happy to have only the original. Doing something that outraged everyone to fix the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Adding a skunk to a bar fight. Whatever happens, proclaim it a win and proudly rename it. Getting his name and face on everything; he does that very well, like an idiot savant that excels at only one thing.

Play the media like a one-button juke box, no such thing as bad publicity. Every outrageous brain fart is front page news, with his personal network Fox News busily rationalizing each grammarless tweet.

Some outbursts make as much sense as reading a third-grader’s Scrabble game. The media put him in office by giving him the cheap publicity he dotes on and show every sign they will continue. The pundits need to stop playing his game, please! Epithets attach his faults to others.

Just when you think it can’t get more outrageous, 45 calls dissent treason. Dissent is fundamental to a republic. Is this mimicking the dictator’s playbook? Every dictator detests the press: “Fake news,” and takes over broadcast media; Fox Noise. Offenses come so fast they are turning this into a list. “I’m the only one that matters” l’état, c’est moi?

How much longer do we endure? Will this wreck the GOP before it wrecks America? So why not impeach now? Because that is just an indictment. What if McConnel impedes the trial in the Senate? POTUS would benefit from a failed impeachment and get reelected maybe more than once. If you set out to overthrow a tyrant, and fail you will be worse off than before.


Reprinted with permission from West Hawaii Today, originally published October 5th, 2019

Ken Obesnki is a forensic engineer now safety and freedom advocate in South Kona. He writes a biweekly column for West Hawaii Today. Email:

Diesel Polluter Exhaust

EV Adoption – linchpin to Hawaii’s transportation and clean energy future

Hawai’i currently has over one million gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles on its roads, which, according to state research, emit nearly five million metric tons of climate-changing carbon pollution annually throughout the islands.

Add to that — Hawaii residents, businesses, and visitors 5 spent over $1,500,000,000 ($1.5 Billion) on imported fossil fuel purchases in 2018; dollars which otherwise could be spent to support our island economy.

Electric Vehicles (Battery Electric Vehicles aka BEV) will play a primary and enabling role in Hawaii’s journey to achieving its statewide goal of a 100% clean energy economy by 2045.

TesEV’s deliver multiple benefits to the taxpayers and residents of Hawai’i. But there is a statewide disconnect between good intentions and state policies designed to support and otherwise enable the fulfillment of these benefits.

First and foremost, Hawaii should be doing everything possible to create incentives, not barriers to this necessary transportation transition. The 2019 legislature’s reluctant passage of Sen. Inouye’s SB409 addition of a surcharge tax on new and annual electric vehicle registrations is an example where ill-informed lawmakers shifted EV adoption in Hawai’i into reverse.

(for 2019 legislative details read the Hawai’i Today edition of May 3rd : “Forces Inside and Outside Hawai’i Shape the State’s Climate Future”).

Second, unlike most other states, in 2019 Hawaii continues to fail to offers any economic incentives towards the advancement EV adoption in the state. State EV incentives are weak at best, and limited to select parking privileges, and for Oahu residents, access to the county’s limited HOV lanes.

State of Hawaii EV Incentives, as of 2019

  • EV Lane Exemption: Qualified EVs and PHEVs may use designated HOV lanes regardless of the number of occupants in the vehicle with the correct license plate
  • Parking Fee Exemption: EVs are exempt from parking fees and metered parking, but not beyond 2.5 hours or the maximum amount of time the meter allows, whichever is longest. The parking exemption only applies to daily fees, not weekly or monthly parking fees. The program sunsets on June 30, 2020.
  • Parking Requirement: Public parking lots with greater than 100 spaces must offer an EV designated parking spot and offer EV charging. The State of Hawaii has a free mobile app that shows public and private charging stations.

Why Price and Choice Matter

Hawaii’s absence of state tax credits towards new and used electric vehicles purchases buyers is a policy weakness which solely relies on Federal tax credits to close the purchase price gaps between ICE and EV vehicle purchases for Hawai’i buyers seeking to go electric.  New car buyers in all states, including Hawai’i, are eligible to receive a Federal tax credit up to $7,500.  This incentive, however, is short lived for the most successful car companies, e.g., Tesla and GM whose EV’s model sales exceeded the Federal limit of 200,000 electric vehicle sales and no longer qualify for the Federal tax credit assistance program set aside for EV purchases.  Hawaii residents interested in a new and affordable Tesla Model 3 or Chevy Bolt are just out of luck.

Nationally, EV sales presently represent only 2.4 percent of all passenger car and truck sales in the U.S. As of January 2018, the number of electric vehicles registered in Hawai’i reached 6,748 – that number stands in contrast to over one million polluting ICE vehicles also registered in the state.  In effect, the electric vehicle population in Hawai’i is far outnumbered by their gasoline-diesel powered counterparts.

In contrast to this proportional reality, lawmakers tout Hawai’i as having the second-highest rate of EV adoption in the country.  That statement may be correct, but when Hawaii’s EV population starts near zero, the adoption rate even in small numbers looks grand.   But that’s beginning to slowly change as EV choices, price ranges, and model options continue to expand with each new model year. Us Hawaii Ev Selction July 2019

Cost matters to consumers across the price range for big ticket purchases likes cars and houses. But some of Hawaii’s legislators, including Senator Inouye, believe falsely that only wealthy people can afford electric vehicles, that’s assumption belies the facts.

This graph shows 2019 EV  models presently available for sale in Hawai’i, their estimated purchase price before Federal tax incentives, their estimated driving range between charges, and their respective battery (engine) size. 

In fact, EV’s like their ICE (Internal Combustion engine) counterparts come in a wide range of prices, with several EV manufacturer models are now comparably priced to similar Honda, Toyota, or Hyundai ICE vehicles. However, ICE vehicles mostly maintain a purchase price advantage over similar EV models, ranging several thousand dollars or more. On average, last year (2018) EVs had an initial purchase price which was generally 15-20% higher than comparable gasoline powered vehicles.

We are now seeing EV battery cost reductions being passed on to consumers. Combined with vehicle design efficiency improvements and technology advances, electric vehicle prices are beginning to drop and consumers are getting greater value for purchase dollars. This was recently demonstrated by the EV market leader Tesla, which lowered 2019 vehicle prices and added driving range to its 2019 premium models, the S and X.

Fuel and Other Ownership Costs Considerations

There are many different ways to view vehicle ownership costs, but the two primary considerations are vehicle purchase costs and the lifetime cost of ownership – maintenance.

Electric Vehicles (EV) offer some distinct cost advantages over internal-combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, primarily in reduced maintenance costs and not having to buy gas …ever —which can make electric vehicles significantly cheaper than the comparable internal-combustion engine vehicles during their ownership lifespan. This is especially true when trading gallons of gas purchased for plugging in by Hawaii’s residents who choose to power not only their homes, but their vehicles from the sun.  The expansion of this zero emissions opportunity is easily expandable to Hawaii’s residents living in condos and apartments without garage parking and charging through a variety options in the state’s policy transition to clean energy.

Today’s so-called efficient cars and trucks still burn lots of fuel fossil getting from point A to point B.  To repeat: Hawaii residents, businesses, and visitors 5 spent over $1,500,000,000 ($1.5 Billion) on imported fossil fuel purchases in 2018.

Beyond fuel costs at the gas pump which require many costly and time wasting trips to local gas stations to re-fuel over and over and over again, there are larger considerations facing the state, and the planet as a whole. Fossil-fueled transportation pollutes our island skies, advances global warming impacts (something we should be acutely aware of living on an island facing rising sea levels and extreme storm events).Diesel Polluter Exhaust

But less obvious cost for ICE owners are the engine and drivetrain maintenance costs. Paid over the vehicle life, drivers of traditional, non-electric vehicles face a huge operating money sink, especially as ICE vehicles age. Changing engine oil, coolant, transmission fluid, and belts all add up maintenance ownership costs over time.

By comparison, electric cars don’t have internal combustion engines, so these costs disappear. Universal vehicle expenses like tire and brake changes, insurance, and structural repair are part of owning any vehicle, but EV owners avoid many of the repeated costs associated with combustion engine upkeep.

A 2018 study from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found that electric vehicles cost less than half as much to operate as gas-powered cars. The average cost to operate an EV in the United States is $485 per year, while the average for a gasoline-powered vehicle is $1,117.

But what are the true EV cost benefits for society and Hawai’i as a whole?

First and foremost, Hawaii’s fossil-fueled transportation options carry with them not only passengers, but externality costs for Hawaii’s taxpayers, primarily in the form of  economic and environmental costs by worsening the growing impacts of climate change on Hawaii and its island economy.

By not advancing the public and private sector adoption of electric vehicles, state and county officials are operating in a mode that runs completely counter to Hawaii’s 2045 100% renewable energy and sustainability goals, which seek end the state’s addiction to imported fossil fuels.

EV adoption and market share growth of the now dominant ICE vehicle marketplace will take several converging factors:Ev Event Kona 2016

  • Private and public sector interest groups must come together on common implementations goals and strategy for the state.

  • A statewide EV charging infrastructure must be established, not just on Oahu

  • EV purchase costs must be competitive at the sticker cost level with comparable ICE options, meaningful state tax incentives will go a long way towards fulfilling this goal, and can be phased out over time once critical mass adoption has been achieved

  • Changes to Hawaii’s current energy policy and regulations that discourage and create barriers to rooftop solar + EV adoption must be addressed holistically, not piecemeal.

Seeing is Believing – Ford introduces its new all electric F-150 pick-up truck …

While Ford is yet to announce a concrete release date for its all-electric F-150, today, the company debut to the world it’s F-150 EV pick-up truck.  The popular pick-up with an EV drivetrain is designed to ensure that the company’s upcoming pivot to electric vehicles will be a success.  The Detroit-based carmaker showcased how much cargo its upcoming battery powered electric truck could actually tow. As it turns out, the figure lies somewhere between zero and 1.25 million pounds.

Ford also recently announced its partnership with Volkswagen, which will allow Ford to use the German carmaker’s battery architecture. Ford has also invested $500 million in electric truck startup Rivian, which will give the veteran automaker access to the startup’s skateboard platform. Ford plans includes the production of over a dozen electric and electrified models by 2022.

Look to the future – which has already arrived

The United Kingdom’s National Grid is presently working on a national clean energy strategy whereby electric vehicles will, in effect, be rolling battery storage modules for the grid. The idea is not new, but implementation at the national grid level is unprecedented.

HECO also speaks of a future for Hawaii’s island-individual energy grid systems in which EV’s play a primary role by enabling grid-level power management of wind and solar power production, in effect, providing greater flexible in managing power fluctuations between supply and demand. But unlike the UK plan, HECO’s green energy plans does not mention the economic benefits and advantages of switching off of expensive fossil fuels and bringing down energy costs for consumers and EV owners.

As a national plan, the UK vision is bold and will require the support of policymakers.  The UK energy sector also predicts electric vehicles will become the most popular form of transport between 2030 and the early 2040s. It also predicts that many more homes and communities will generate their own electricity through solar panels or micro wind power projects.

None of this seems especially remarkable, in fact, of course the UK considers and plans for EV’s having a pivotal role in their clean energy-storage-management transition plans.

Nearer to home, island life goes on. Our county governments, communities, developers, along with present and future EV owners struggle with the basic question of where do I charge my EV?  The stakeholders look to Oahu or Washington D.C. for guidance and resources, but find little to none, just missed opportunities as the legislative clock ticks down to 2045 – well there’s always next year…


Morrish Idol Mk Reef

Sustainability is Mauō 

Sustainability — more than just a word

The Hawaiian word for sustainability is mauō is made up of two basic words; mau, stability, unbroken continuity, and ō, enduring.   This new Hawaiian word was coined by the Hawaiian Lexicon Committee in 2016, because previously there was no need for the word mauō as it was a normal part of Hawaiian life.

Sustainability in Hawaii is a term that is bandied about with great relish, and there is no shortage of talk story on the subject.  It seems like every governmental agency and non-profit, from the Hawaiian Tourism Authority, to Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), to big name developers like A&B have used this euphemism as a way of supplanting serious public conversations about living in balance with nature, and the essential role it plays beyond resource extraction and consumption.

In the words of political ecologist Paul Hawken, “The dirty secret of environmentalism is that ‘sustainability’ is an insufficient objective.”

In a world overtaken by the certainty of global warming, ‘sustainability,’ even when taken a step beyond lip service, can no longer be taken seriously.

From Alaska to Europe, the world has spent the past few weeks roasting under temperatures never before seen in recorded history.  Alaska has hit all-time-high record temperatures according to the National Weather Service.Euro Gw Chart1

Meanwhile, hot winds blowing north from the Sahara have been sending temperatures in Europe to soar to record highs.

It was Europe’s record three-degree temperature spike this past week  that brought global temperatures to their recorded-history highs.

Hawai’i, like the rest of the world has been overtaken by the certainty of global warming and its consequences.

So when we speak about ‘sustainability,’ even when taken a step beyond lip service, can the meaning and purpose of sustainability continue to be taken seriously?

To Fish or Not to Fish, the Question is Bigger Than That

Six months ago it was widely reported that many reefs in West Hawai’i, previously devastated by a major 2015 bleaching event have stabilized, and as reported at the time was the “first step toward recovery.”  Beyond the happy headlines, the same researchers noted that much remains to be done in the region with more frequent and severe bleaching events anticipated in the future – an understatement at best.

Recent observations of the reef system between North Kona and South Kohala indicated that some baby coral recovery sighting from earlier this year are now showing signs of stress and bleaching.

Stabilization is often associated with sustainability, as in things are bad, but relax, they won’t get worse. As if this was a cause for celebration.  Perhaps, when 90% of Cauliflower coral, once the state’s most abundant shallow water species, is nearly wiped out during a 2015 bleaching event, and then there still hope that tomorrow will bring recovery. New Coral Bleaching 2019

“Some bleaching in the environment is considered normal, but it has been happening more and more often,” said NOAA officials who announced last week to update this summer a survey of Hawaii’s ocean floors, which have not been updated since the 1940s.

In the local community there is always hope that Hawaii’s reef system will recover, and soon. But the bland assertions of DLNR (Dept. of Land and Natural Resources) when it relates specifically to this precious and fragile marine environment and resource is another matter when it comes to Hawaii Island’s ‘aquarium trade’ – in effect a for-free business model of reef wildlife collection for profit.

The adopted DLNR lexicon of ‘sustainability’; “sustainable catch”, “sustainable collection”, are the agency’s catchall terms used to define what has become the ultimate defense of disputed harvest numbers and unseen resource extraction practices of Hawaii’s reef fish. All together it has proven to be a meaningless set of terms designed for public consumption, not regulation.  It’s no wonder that DLNR’s management policies have proven to be impossible to enforce — perhaps that was their intent all along.  All the while the aquarium ‘trade’ operators continue to assure the public and the politicians that they are doing just fine by ‘self-regulating’.

The state could undertake practices to enable sustainability of Hawaii’s reef marine environment, but this will require political leadership so far that has been lacking in the meaningful development of sustainability policies ahead of status quo considerations.  Instead, from the Governor, legislators, and county mayors, there is void that needs to be filled and without delay.  It is a need for general reform and focus on the preservation and complex restoration of one of the state’s irreplaceable assets, a healthy marine environment throughout Hawaii’s island chain.

For DNLR, such a statewide commitment would easily agency exceed the Agency’s half-measures and incomplete actions that generally translate in limited and isolated fishing moratoriums. Instead, what is required for 21st century environmental challenges of a global magnitude are global solutions, e.g., Paris Climate Accord, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Committee of Fisheries, International Whaling Commission, and the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) — the first of a series of four negotiating sessions through 2020 in the development of a new legally-binding treaty to protect marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, commonly known as the high seas.

But local problems require also local action. In the case of the future of Hawaii’s reef system, fishing will eventually be limited or fish losses will solve any on going problems with extinctions.

If restoration measures are to succeed, DLNR will be need to move beyond saving isolated reef spaces, and instead, engage in a holistic conservation and recovery strategy that connects the dots between coral and reef fish. DLNR must also develop an independent and science-based strategy that addresses the multiple stressors of warming temperatures, rising sea levels, sea water acidification, marine food chain disruptions, and focus on addressing the needs of Hawaii’s diverse ecosystems and species.

Merely skirting tipping points to extinction, while invoking the magical word of ‘sustainability’, will no longer cut it.  So let’s imagine a new magic word: abundance or as the Hawaiians termed it “’aina monoma”…


No Planet B Sign

Forces Inside and Outside Hawai’i Shape the State’s Climate Future

Hawaii’s 2019 legislative Accomplishments and Failures

We often measure value in terms of money or time or both. But there is an overriding third element too often overlooked: opportunity.

Opportunity came knocking at the door of Hawaii’s 2019 legislative session when in the senate SB 690 was born. To be exact, it was on January 18th.  Simply titled: “Relating to Climate Change”, SB 690 set forth the ambitious task of addressing the problem of climate change and the global warming impacts in which Hawaii, so far, is ill prepared.

Perhaps if our legislators took time off from their busy schedules to notice the headlines, they would have been more focused on the subject and committed to working on solutions – the time to act is now…

“Heatwaves sweeping oceans ‘like wildfires’, scientists reveal extreme temperatures that destroy kelp, sea grass and corals – with alarming impacts for humanity”

“Study shows how destabilized natural systems will worsen man-made climate problems — the oldest and thickest sea ice in the Arctic has started to break up, further advancing sea level rise”

“Speeding Toward Irrevocable Climate Chaos – global carbon emissions must be cut by 50 percent per decade beginning now — repeat, now”… 

Nearly a month later, and a fair amount of legislative give and take and taxpayers money spent, SB 690, now slightly amended as SD 1, was referred to Hawaii’s Senate Ways and Means Committee (also referred as WAM or the meat grinder).  Something happened in the black hole of WAM law making processes, SB 690 was abandoned, and in its place a stepchild was offered up in the form of SB 393.  Without any legislative fanfare or justification, the overarching issue of our time was reduced to “Relating to Coastal Zone Management” — SB 393.

The differences between the original SB 690 and its replacement SB 393 were truly striking:

SB 690 contained a detailed 39 page legislative action plan and statewide funding for addressing climate change impacts in a rapidly closing window of opportunity; specifically Hawaii-centric issues ranging from sea level rise to needed environmental and economic transformation.

SB 690 also contained 42 separate citations on Climate Change, and 24 citations on Sea Level Rise.   Its 19 page incomplete replacement, SB 393, contained only 2 citations of Climate Change, and 4 citations on Sea Level Rise.  It’s easy to understand which bill was more complete than the other in addressing the state’s climate challenges.

To be fair, there were some good legislative points in SB 393, however preparing for and reducing global warming impacts beyond improved coastal management and other limited half steps is the challenge before all of us.

In the end, even this modest attempt by the legislature failed to persuade most lawmakers – rest in peace, SB 393.

The effects of Climate Change and rising seas impacts on Hawaii’s famed beaches and resorts will also have to wait another year – perhaps for more delays and added costs for all of Hawaii’s stakeholders, certainly before any future and complete legislative solutions reach the Governor’s desk.

Baby steps by Hawaii’s law making bodies is a poor substitute for a running defense. This is no small task. The state must adopt policies and actions that will mitigate the economic, environmental, and social disruptions to Hawaii’s residents and the state’s economy, for both present and future generations. This is especially true when we are being chased by the Godzilla of all man-made impacts to our planet: global warming.

Rip 2019 Hawaii Legislature

Last month, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation and several other groups banded together to demand an “emergency-level response” to climate change from Hawaii’s legislators, instead they got 74 climate measures which died before the 2019 session. Good and bad bills alike, which sought to address many pressing issues ranging from sea level rise and greenhouse gas emissions to single-use plastics, advancing solar power, and the adoption of electric vehicles.  There was no shortage of ideas, just what was needed, circumstances which demanded bold legislative Climate Change leadership, and got none.

Hawaii’s 2019 legislative session may be noteworthy not by its accomplishments, but the number of climate-related bills now dead and buried: SB 393, SB571HB855SB690HB1090SB1338SB700HB1370SB259 and SB1289

Hawaii shifts into reverse on EV’s

Hawaii state policy has never been friendly to the idea of electric vehicles replacing fossil fueled transportation. When other states offered new EV buyers tax incentives that help with the higher purchase price and facilitated their state’s transition to clean transportation, Hawaii offered no such incentives to its residents.  Hawaii certainly recognizes by state policy the necessity to migrate to zero emissions transportation, and equally important the role this transition plays in reducing Hawaii’s dependence on imported fossil fuels that are a primary source for more than 60% of the state’s greenhouse emissions and a major contributor to local air pollution.  Yet for Hawaii’s EV owners, the state has not so much as said mahalo for its citizens’ contributions to the state clean energy and climate goals.

Along comes SB 409 and the bill’s passage this month. It is a bill that singles out EV owners for newly created tax, a surcharge added onto the annual vehicle registration fees for all EV owners.

Hawaii’s nascent adoption of EV’s is just that — with EV’s presently representing less than 1% of all registered vehicles in the state. Now EV owners must negotiate a legislated speed bump, courtesy of Big Island’s very own Senator Lorraine Inouye — who was so happy with the passage of her bill SB 409, it’s rumored that she was seen dancing down the statehouse halls singing that old Beach Boys tune “…she’s real fine my 409”,  an ode to the past glory days of fossil-fueled cars —

Inouye’s justification for SB 409 and its EV surcharge tax is simple enough, like her reasoning “…electric vehicles damage the roads.”  As if Hawaii’s annual vehicle registration fees are not already high enough, when it comes to road damage perhaps the good senator should have considered taxing the sun, which does its own fair share of road damage.  But this legislature couldn’t determine how to tax the sun so they settled on the next best thing, EV’s powered by Hawaii rooftops and the sun.

The reality is fuel types do not determine the degree of “damage” to Hawaii’s roads, rather it is vehicle weight that drives road wear and tear.

Road Vs Vehicle Weight Chart


The passage of SB 409 represents no less than a significant statewide policy shift that runs over the Hawaii’s climate change mitigation efforts, and by extension, clean energy and sustainability goals.

Senator Ruderman (also Big Island) pointed out in an attempt to reason and offer a much-needed climate reality-check for Lorraine and other colleagues before the final vote …  that the world has 10 to 12 years to address climate change before we pass the point of no return. Ruderman went on to remind his colleagues that the entire basis for SB 409 is flawed. That Hawaii’s roads are damaged by the heaviest vehicles, heavy trucks, and that SB 409 not only sends cross-signals as to the state’s commitment to address the challenges of climate change, but it makes no sense.  We couldn’t agree more.

Just last fall, the Trump administration was forced to release a federally-mandated major climate report that is produced every four years by more than 300 independent and government scientists. Writing in the Fourth National Climate Assessment, report author Brenda Ekwurzel said the findings made it clear …”climate change is not some problem in the distant future.”

The report went on to state…“It’s happening right now in every part of the country. When people say the wildfires, hurricanes and heat waves they’re experiencing are unlike anything they’ve ever seen before, there’s a reason for that, and it’s called climate change.”

It’s no secret that the world is already seeing the effects of climate change. A NASA website section dedicated to the subject notes shrinking glaciers and shifting plant and animal ranges as evidence that it’s happening in real time with past predictions now coming to fruition through loss of sea ice, intensified heatwaves, and sea level rise around the world. 


The window of opportunity to make a difference may have closed on Hawaii’s 2019 legislative, but not entirely for Hawaii’s citizens whose voices matter.

BeyondKona recommends our readers contact Governor Ige’s office (808) 586-0034 (this week). Show your support or veto request for the following climate-action bills …the few that survived Hawaii’s 2019 legislative gauntlet.

BeyondKona VETO Recommendation

SB 409 – Adds surcharge tax to annual registration fees targeting Electric Vehicles.

BeyondKona Recommendation to Governor Ige SIGN INTO LAW the following legislative measures —

HB401    — Requires all public agencies to identify and evaluate vehicle fleet energy efficiency programs. Amends the definition of “energy performance contract” to include EV charging infrastructure.

HB556    — Authorizes DBEDT to adopt minimum appliance efficiency standards for certain products.

HB560    — Requires UH community colleges to establish energy systems and technology training courses.

HB1585  — Establishes a rebate program for installation of eligible new or upgraded multi-user EV charging systems.

SB375    — Requires the Department of Ag and the Governor to develop a strategic plan to double local food production and increase food exports by 2030.

SB390    — Requires the Department of Ag to create a dollar-for-dollar matching program for beneficiaries of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to purchase Hawaii-grown produce.

SB661    — Grants procurement priority for fuel cell electric vehicles for state and county vehicle purchases. Includes fuel cell electric vehicles in the definition of “electric vehicles” for purposes of parking fee exemption, high occupancy vehicle lane use, registration, and required parking spaces in places of public accommodation.

SB1442  — Requires the Public Utilities Commission to consider the value of improving electric power systems data access and transparency in order to make informed decisions.











Editorial – Trump – Taxes – Tariffs

Be Aware of the 3 T’s: Trump – Taxes – Tariffs

As Hawai’i struggles with balancing its state and county budgets, there is a larger tax game being played out in Washington D.C. — the Trump administration’s economic agenda and policies of bait and switch.

After the 2016 election and Trump became president, his party took total control of the Federal government. The following two years (2017-18) were racked with scandals, many still unfolding to this day. With all the media noise and daily Trump tweets, the GOP systematically pushed through a single minded party agenda: Federal Tax Reductions that favored mega corporations and the uber rich. The Federal tax reduction changes did offer a small carrot to all other taxpayers who currently enjoy a short-lived tax cut benefit scheduled to be erased in the next few years.

The Trumpeted cuts in Federal tax rates claim a new era of economic prosperity for America, but proved unpopular with the general public who soon realized the full consequences of the GOP tax reduction plan and who will pay for it.

The Administration’s bait and switch tax tactics arrived in the form of new and hidden taxes that Trump imposed last year as trade tariffs against key US trading partners, much of which negates a significant portion of the Federal tax cuts Trump crows about regularly. The tariffs Trump imposed last year affect a broad range of imports and have generated about $3 billion per month in new tariff taxes, according to new research published by the Center for Economic Policy Research in London.

Trump has said many times that China is now paying “billions of dollars” to the United States. But that’s not true. The Trump tariff costs “have been almost entirely passed through as domestic price increases on imported goods,” according to economists at Columbia University, Princeton University. That means American producers and consumers are paying more in hidden taxes in the form of price increases.

Trump favors tariffs as a way of making imports more expensive, which in turn as the theory goes, might lead to more domestic manufacturing and employment. Manufacturing employment did rise in 2018, but only slightly faster than it had been steadily rising under the Obama-led economic recovery of the previous 8 years and absent of no new trade tariffs. Even if every one of the 115,000 new manufacturing jobs gained during the last 6 months had been created because of the Trump tariffs, the cost, in new taxes paid by Americans, would equal around $156,000 per job. Most of those new manufacturing jobs pay far less than that in take home pay.

Trumpeted loudly, the current administration’s policy of tariffs ignores history and the role tariffs played contributing to the great depression of the 1930’s. Trump’s tariffs instead have produced a higher US trade deficit in 2018 than the previous year …and before tariffs.

Global trade balances, both surpluses and deficits, are tricky things for countries to manage in today’s world of economic inter-dependency.

The simplistic economic trade policy espoused by President Trump and manifested in heavy-handed tariffs has predictably produced unintended consequences obvious to everyone but the President.

Trade Policy – Another Tool for Advancing a Dirty Energy Agenda

Since taking power in 2017, the Trump Administration has actively engaged in a war on the environment, and by some measure, the future of humankind. BeyondKona continues to track and report on various undertakings by this Administration and its efforts to subvert the public interest in regulatory (mis)management by Administration agency directors at EPA, Energy, and Interior departments – with one primary goal in mind: to advance coal, gas, and oil interests at the public’s expense and increasing the peril from climate changes now occurring.

Less obvious has been the Administration’s agenda to roll-back America’s advancement and transition to a clean energy economy.

Trumpeted tariff benefits are often cited as the re-creation of lost (low value) screw-driver manufacturing jobs, long since exported abroad to higher efficiency and lower labor cost suppliers.

These same tariff benefits cited by Trump in bringing back manufacturing jobs to America make excellent media sound bites, but what does it really mean?  Trump, by his own rhetoric, is attempting to rollback the clock to the 1950’s when coal was king in America, and environmental considerations and costs were ignored by all but the human and economic victims of air and water pollution impacts of the time.

While this Administration conducts an all-out war on America’s globally competitive transition to a technically advanced clean energy economy, it has systematically rolled back environmental protections and clean energy tax investment incentives, opened for drilling previously protected and environmental sensitive public lands and marine habitats to fossil fuel extraction interests — all at fire sale prices well below fair market value. He has also attempted to strong arm electric utilities to join him in his fight to resuscitate a dying, high cost, dirtiest of domestic energy options; coal.

All this runs counter to common economic, scientific, social, and environmental sense.

Trade imbalances with America’s trading partners, including China, must be addressed, but the Trump way is the wrong way. Today’s news channels are echoing the Administration’s claims of victory and success in their trade negotiations with China — look beyond the headlines, and you’ll likely discover that any agreement with China will not appear as rosy as its portrayed – the devil is in the agreement details.

21st Century American Jobs

An economic benefit and effect from the previous Obama Administration’s energy policy years was that by 2017 solar and wind industries were each creating jobs at a rate 12 times faster than that of the rest of the U.S. economy, far exceeding the gas, oil, and coal fossil fuel energy sectors combined, according to a study published by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

The EDF report finds that solar and wind jobs have grown at rates of about 20% annually in recent years, and represent a half million added jobs in the U.S. economy. Also, directly accountable to Trump’s policies and energy agenda, the solar industry suffered a loss of nearly 8,000 jobs in 2018, its second straight year of job losses after seven years of stellar growth.

Solar Jobs Graph

Forbes reported that since Trump took office, America lost 20,000 high paying solar energy jobs.  The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit group, reported job losses of 3 percent in solar industry sector jobs, primarily attributed to a slowdown in solar panel installations — again Trump-instituted solar tariffs played a key role in this US industry disruption.

Most of the jobs in the U.S. solar industry are people installing solar-power systems on roofs, as well as jobs related to other parts of the supply chain, not manufacturing panels, as is the case here in Hawai’i. About 155,000 solar jobs, or two-thirds of the total, are in the installation and project development sector, according to The Solar Foundation.

In January 2018, Trump imposed a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels as part of his trade agenda to target cheap products made by China and other Asian countries. The tariffs, to be levied over four years, are for 30 percent in the first year, 25 percent in the second, 20 percent in the third, and 15 percent in the fourth year. The industry’s main trade group blamed President Trump’s tariffs on solar job declines, and has called on the administration to terminate the tariffs — so far to no avail.

separate study published by UCLA and the National Bureau for Economic Research finds the Trump tariffs cost American consumers and producers $68.8 billion per year in higher costs and lost output, with the tariffs paid entirely by Americans.  Tariffs, coupled to current tax policies which cost America’s middle class dearly, demonstrate there is good reason to be concerned about the 3 T’s.

UPDATE – as reported in the New York Times edition of March 8th:

“One of President Trump’s goals was to narrow the country’s trade deficit. But amid a global economic slowdown, weaker demand for American goods, a trade war with Beijing and Mr. Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut, the trade deficit has hit a record $891 billion.”

Hawaii’s 2019 Legislative Session

An exclusive BeyondKona interview with Rep. Nicole E. Lowen, House Chair of the Energy & Environmental Protection Committee–

— Today, Jan. 16th, marks the start of Hawaii’s 2019 regular legislative session.  Many of the state’s lawmakers believe that Gov. David Ige’s conservative revenue outlook, combined with a new legislative budgeting process could alter how priorities are established, and programs and projects are funded. The House is embarking on a zero-based budgeting approach that would require each agency to justify their budgets from scratch, rather than justifying only the increases.

In an exclusive interview with BeyondKona, Rep. Nicole Lowen, recently appointed to the position of Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection, offered her insights on renewable energy, the environment, and other legislative priorities for this new session.

Lowen~highresolutionoriginal2Rep. Lowen has worked tirelessly to protect Hawaii’s unique and valuable environment. Her previous years’ experience serving as the Vice Chair of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee have yielded valuable lessons as to what’s possible in her new position as chair of this important committee.

In 2015, she helped to pass an all-important bill that set the state on path to a clean energy economy – and enable Hawaii to reach its goal of becoming a 100% renewable energy state by 2045, ending its costly dependence on imported fossil fuels.

We asked Rep. Lowen what we can expect from the 2019 legislative session in addressing the state’s ongoing transition to renewable energy, climate change, and other potential challenges ahead. She summed it up: “In order to get stuff done you have to pick priorities, you can’t do everything at once, and be willing to compromise.”  


BeyondKona – Thank you Nicole for taking the time to join us today.  What do you see as your top three priorities for your committee this legislative session?

REP. LOWEN –  “Priorities for this session will include climate adaptation and mitigation, pushing to accelerate the transition to 100% renewable energy, and establishing some goals and incentives for clean transportation.  Around two thirds of the fossil fuels imported into the state are used for transportation fuels, so that is a big piece that still needs to be addressed.”

“I also expect a number of bills on invasive species and waste reduction, issues I’ve worked on in the past…”      


BeyondKonaHawaii’s 2045 RPS goal holds the promise for a 100% fossil fuel-free economy. Based on what we have accomplished already, there is still so much more to do to achieve this goal, which will require coordinated and cooperative efforts among all the stakeholders. How do we get there?

REP. LOWEN – I think we are on track to achieve these goals, and we are finally at a place where, in my opinion, the public utilities commission, the utilities, and the legislature are more in line with each other than they have been in the past.

In 2015 the legislature passed the bill to establish our 100% renewable by 2045 goal, but then shortly after that NextEra came in with their proposal to purchase the utilities, and that put progress on hold for about a year and half while the merger was considered.  Since the merger deal was taken off the table, you really get a sense that Hawaii’s utilities are finally on board with the transition to renewable energy.

At the same time, the cost of renewable energy projects has been consistently dropping, and there have been a lot of technological advances which make these projects very competitive.


BeyondKonaThere has been a fair amount of public controversy as to the types of currently qualified and approved power plant replacements for fossil fueled ones. Some replacements actually add to rather than eliminate greenhouse gas emissions and pollute the local environment in other ways.  Is there a legislative opportunity for RPS reform that will result in greater environmental due diligence and protections when considering future power generating options between now and 2045? Do you see PUC taking on this oversight role?

REP. LOWEN – “Right now the PUC, I believe, mostly looks at cost and pricing considerations when they are tasked with approving new PPAs (power purchase agreements). But we could consider whether we should establish some other criteria for the PUC to consider when they are deciding whether to approve these requests. 

For example, if a life cycle analysis of a project shows that its carbon emissions are as bad as or worse than a fossil fuel power plant, then we could give the PUC a directive to make that consideration part of their process.”


BeyondKonaThe House is embarking on a zero-based budgeting approach that would require each agency to justify their budgets from scratch, rather than justifying only the increases.

REP. LOWEN – “In the past, there hasn’t been enough transparency in passing the budget bill, and there are a limited number of public hearings.

The changes this year will provide a chance for the subject matter committees to have a bigger role in determining the budget for departments or divisions under that committee’s jurisdiction, and this will provide a chance for all the committee members to be more involved as well.”


BeyondKonaIn preparing for and addressing ongoing Climate Change impacts, which should Hawai’i prioritize first in addressing this global threat?

  • Preventing and Mitigating Environmental and Infrastructure Impacts –
  • Preserving and then slowly transitioning existing business models to climate-driven priorities –
  • Minimizing social and economic transition disruptions in addressing global warming – even if such delaying actions increase eventual costs to Hawai’i in terms of the economy, as well as societal and environmental impacts –

REP. LOWEN – “Clearly, all of these factors are important—we must act decisively to reduce carbon emissions and to prepare for the impacts we do expect to see from climate change. I don’t think it is useful to frame this as a trade-off between climate action, jobs, and the needs of the business community.  

The goal is to build a clean energy economy that works for everyone. Also, as bills move through the legislative process, environmentalists are not the only ones in the room. 

In order to make this work and to get bills passed, we have to build consensus with unions, with the business community, with all the other stakeholders.”


BeyondKona Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist and a political science professor at Texas Tech University, recently summed up Climate Change this way: “If you think immigration is a problem now, just wait. If you think international competitiveness, or agriculture or water shortages, or the extreme amount of money that is being spent to help cities and regions to recover after disasters, if you think any of that is a problem right now, just wait.”

With that in mind, do you think Hawai’i should go fast, slow, or business as usual when it comes to addressing climate change?

REP. LOWEN – “Of course we need to take action, and with all the recent news about climate change and the report from the IPCC, it seems like the faster we can move, the better. 

We also hope that other states and countries are doing what they can do as well.  We aren’t going to be able to solve climate change on our own, but I am very proud of the leadership that Hawaii has shown on these issues.

The policies we pass here really do have a significant impact well beyond the borders of our state.”   

BeyondKona – I know you’re short on time. Thank you again Nicole for your comments and thoughts on priorities and expectations for the legislative new year.


Ocean Warming Is Accelerating Faster Than Thought, New Research Finds

New York Times, Jan.10, 2019 — Scientists say the world’s oceans are warming far more quickly than previously thought, a finding with dire implications for climate change because almost all the excess heat absorbed by the planet ends up stored in their waters.

A new analysis, published Thursday in the journal Science, found that the oceans are heating up 40 percent faster on average than a United Nations panel estimated five years ago. The researchers also concluded that ocean temperatures have broken records for several straight years.

“2018 is going to be the warmest year on record for the Earth’s oceans,” said Zeke Hausfather, an energy systems analyst at the independent climate research group Berkeley Earth and an author of the study. “As 2017 was the warmest year, and 2016 was the warmest year.”

Hawaii Beach Erosion

Island of Oahu, the Pipeline beach area with newly established beach erosion measures now in place…


Big Island Banner Pic

2018, A Big Island Year To Remember

The 2014 movie “Interstellar” was based on the theory of traveling through a blackhole, bending time, and experiencing intense gravity with strange outcomes.  Living in Hawai’i recently seems like our island spaceship cannot escape the intense gravity of world events, yet we are continually reminded of the paradox that Hawai’i is uniquely isolated, but globally connected.

Kīlauea’s summer vacation

This year began like any other, until the Kīlauea’s east rift zone erupted on May 3, 2018.  This latest eruption is believed to have been connected to the larger volcanic eruption that began on January 3, 1983, and blessed the Kona side of the island with smoggy (voggy) skies and poor visibility for the next 35 years.  The May 2018 eruption (considered to be the most destructive since the Mount St. Helens eruption of 1980) took its toll on island residents, especially those residents previously living in the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens subdivisions.

On the positive side, waking up one summer morning and suddenly discovering something missing was an understatement.  Without any fanfare from Kilauea, the volcano just decided that enough was a enough and it was time for things Sunset 1to quiet down for while – an unexpected gift and well received by the Island’s local residents.  Since 1984, it took a swift in the trade winds, or perhaps a heavy rainfall the night before to temporarily clear the sky of volcanic haze (vog aka volcanic smog).

But by early August this past year the eruption had almost completely subsided, and the lull in volcanic activity continues to keep the air mostly clean and clear for island sunsets that are unbelievably beautiful. For now at least, skies are crystal blue, and stunning ocean views are unobstructed to the horizon, and night skies now rival any planetarium show that even impresses lifelong residents.

At the peak 2018 eruption, it was estimated that 50,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and other poisonous gases were filling local island skies and beyond. Gas mask sales soared across Hawaii Island.  But since dropped to an average of 1,000 tons of SO2 gases a day, 1/50 the volume at peak eruption earlier this year.

The current “pause” in volcanic activity state has yielded only very minor signs of vog production wafting across Kona skies, with nothing much getting in the way of breathing deep and enjoying a wonderful and joyful sunset – for as long as it lasts…

The sun energizes most of life on Earth, and Hawai’i is no exception

(updated Jan. 17th, 2019)

Hawaii’s tropical location provides abundant sunshine, producing energy, abundant agriculture, deep suntans, sunsets and a night sky (away from city lights) that will take your breath away.

All this sunshine depends on a nearby star, our Sun, which serves as the ultimate (fusion) nuclear reactor, creating high temperatures through the  fusion of hydrogen at its core, and in turn, warming the Earth to livable temperatures from millions of miles away.   Most of Earth’s life depends on the sun, and we human are no different. In the history of human civilization, energy (in one form or another) has been basic to human survival, and sun plays a most important role in Earth’s energy matrix.

As modern civilization evolves, so has our modern day adoption and use of energy resources such as fossil fuels, nuclear fuel, or renewable energy.  In the 21st century, our planet economies are becoming increasingly electrified, along with a corresponding increase appetite for energy.  The emission by-products of these energy-dependent processes are now impacting Earth’s climate, ecosystems, and most life on Earth.

The last 150 (fossil-fueled) years has produced accumulative CO2 emissions in the Earth’s atmosphere and is now placing  life on Earth in 21st century into a death spiral for what scientists are calling the “6th great extinction event”.  Driven by many human factors, human-caused global temperature rise is creating disastrous impacts on ecosystems and the species dependent on them – Hawaii is no exception, with one the most notable impacts, coral bleaching and the death of near shore marine ecosystems.

There was a time in Earth’s history comparable to today’s climate crisis (minus humans) — that was 252 million years ago, when up to 96% of all marine species and more than two-thirds of terrestrial species perished. The mass extinction, known as the “great dying” marked the end of the Permian geologic period. The study of sediments and fossilized creatures show the event was the single greatest calamity ever to befall life on Earth, eclipsing even the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

Scientists now believe the Earth has entered its 6th mass extinction event, a ‘biological annihilation’ of populations of animals that have been lost in recent decades.

Unlike past mass extinctions, caused by events like asteroid strikes, volcanic eruptions, and natural climate shifts, the current climate crisis is almost entirely caused by us — humans. In fact, 99 percent of currently threatened species are at risk from human activities, primarily those driving habitat loss, introduction of exotic species, and global warming. Because the rate of change in our biosphere is increasing, and because every species’ extinction potentially leads to the extinction of others bound to that species in a complex ecological web, numbers of extinctions are likely to snowball in the coming decades as ecosystems unravel.

As for Hawaii’s energy sector, the nexus of energy and climate change-extinction is obvious to an increasing number of policy makers.  The state has begun to transition to locally produced and (for the most part) clean and emissions-free renewable energy, while capitalizing on Hawaii’s abundant solar energy options. Solar  power, within Hawaii represents he highest per capita growth rates in the United States.

Putting environmental, social, and climate change impacts aside from burning fossil fuels, Hawaii’s imported dirty energy represents the most costly for the importation of petroleum and coal — a cost factor that is three to four times higher than the mainland fuel prices.  Imported energy costs further mount with factoring in environmental, climate, and public health cost factors that are absorbed by the public from burning those fossil fuels.  In effect, Hawaii has both strong environmental and economic motivations to become a world class leader in energy self-sufficiency through solar and wind and energy storage as primary replacements of imported and costly, polluting fossil-fuels.   Solar Pv Sun Image

In 2015, Hawaii was the first state in the United States to reach grid parity for photovoltaics.  Previously, solar energy represented just 0.07% of Hawaii’s total electricity generation back in 2007. But by 2015, solar energy fulfilled 6% of Hawaii’s total electricity needs, and thermal solar (hot water systems) further reduced Hawaii’s energy demands.

Hawaii’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (HRS 269 -92) mandates 100 percent renewable energy in the electricity sector by  2045, and solar will continue to play key role fulfilling this goal.  In 2017, Hawaii’s energy mix for renewables stood at 27.6 percent, more than 12 percent ahead of the interim statutory 2015 target of 15 percent, with plenty of room for future growth of both rooftop residential and business installations, combined with utility-scale solar and solar-storage installations, all together, ending Hawaii’s dirty imported energy dependency.

New Arrivals to the Big Island discover a 21st century paradise, but not without challenges

Between 2012 and 2016, the Big Island lost an estimated 2,362 people annually to the other three counties in Hawaii, while adding just 1,654, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. Not in this past census data was the recent impacts of the 2018 Kilauea eruption and exodus of some long time residents who had enough health issues and uncertainties to overcome the joys of paradise.

For recent Mainland (move-in) arrivals to the Big Island, many quickly discover that island life has its challenges and rewards. 

Is there a doctor in the house?   Leaving “living the good life” descriptions to the state’s well-funded tourism brochures, daily Big Island life too often means living with a chronic shortage of doctors and essential medical services. The only real full service medical system on Hawai’i Island is Kaiser, and even the big K is feeling the pain of a chronic shortage of qualified medical practitioners, and as outer island populations grow, their legacy of a strategy for lowering operating costs by flying their members in need to Oahu for many medical services and labs, based on a big Island with small population is failing to meet demand.  Doctor Shortages

Forget our local hospitals, you may be better off taking a life-flight to Oahu or the mainland. The discovery of the absence of medical choices leaves newcomers to the island dumbfounded for what they took for granted – medical options that were easily and conveniently available on the mainland, are now a day trip or longer away and come at a higher cost.

Then there is Big Island living at the end of the state’s supply-chain, which too often requires being your own personal Costco in order to ensure that what you want is available when you need it.

All in all, it takes only one beautiful sunset, ocean swim, monarch butterfly, and fresh year-round produce to soon forget, at least for a moment, the challenges of island life.

Onward and i luna, next stop Mars?

The Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation is an analog habitat for human spaceflight to Mars.   For the first time ever, the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) project, which tests how humans would endure the isolation of a Mars mission, will include participants from four different countries of origin.  HI-SEAS is located in an isolated position on the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano on the island of Hawaii.  Mauna Loa offers Mars-like features, and an elevation of approximately of 8,200 feet above sea level for the habitat to further the unearthly Earth bound experience.

Mars Habitat On MkThe first crewed Mars Mission plans sending astronauts to Mars, orbiting Mars, and a return to Earth, and it is scheduled for the 2030s.  One year after Elon Musk announced his big vision plan that expects to transport a million people to Mars via Space X, he expects Mars colonization to be in less than 25 years.

Sustainability is foremost in the minds of dreamers, entrepreneurs, scientists, and adventurers who plan to settle on Mars.  Basics like oxygen, water, a radiation shield, and no food are just some of the things we take for granted here on Earth, but absent on Mars. At recent scientific conference hosted by Mars colonization enthusiasts and advocates, the key speaker painted bleak picture for the future of human survival on Earth, but simple stating …‘extinction is the new norm,’ …which begs the question, really?

So some uber-rich billionaires are betting their riches on building their own lifeboats to escape Earth, as they see it as a sinking ship and look to a journey to Mars as humankind heads for extinction on planet Earth.

Human extinction is not a scientific or social foregone conclusion.   But a prescription for extinction of life on Earth starts with unsustainable living, and the wasting and pollution of Earth’s life-sustaining assets: clean water, breathable air, and upsetting the balance of the atmosphere by loading massive amounts of  human-generated CO2 emissions, methane, and other greenhouse gases that all together are rapidly raises planetary temperatures.

When global changes occur in the Earth’s temperatures, natural, self-regulating systems, change as in climate change. Add in the wasteful absentee management of over-harvesting the Earth’s life-sustaining food chain, and humans soon find themselves on a path on of no return.


Beyond Kona Powerlines Solar Field

Hawai’i Island Energy At A Crossroads

Hawai’i Island is at a crossroads… reactive public policies and misguided private investment are not helping – enough. 

Just days after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a terrifying report confirming the world (in which Hawai’i is not exempt) must act immediately to avoid catastrophic climate change, Hurricane Michael has slammed into the Florida panhandle, supercharged by overly warm ocean water, and showed us another example of the devastation climate disasters can cause, especially to vulnerable communities.

Ok, you’ve heard it before, but it bears repeatingHurricanes are becoming stronger, slower and wetter; recent storm events in Hawai’i bears this out.  And yes, the changes to our climate and increase in global temperatures are primarily driven by human-induced demand for fossil fuel energy and the consequences of that demand and energy consumption.  If you still drive a gas or diesel truck, SUV, or car, then you’re burning fossil fuels and part of the problem.  When you shop at the local grocery store, you’re contributing to the problem, when you turn on your lights with power supplied by Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO) or take a shower with DWS supplied water, you’re also part of the problem, and life’s list goes on…

Let’s face it, we are all part of the problem, but the time is now, and long overdue, that we all become part of the solution.


HELCO’s decision to buy power, and thus enable, the controversial (yet to be activated) tree destroying and wood-burning Hu Honua power plant, is one example of Hawai’i Island being on the wrong path in its energy transition with state-sanctioned renewable energy options that include wood-burning biomass power plants.   The Hu Honua is the kind of power plant project you would expect to be sited in marginally developed areas of the world with limited power options, not Hawai’i.

A recent name change to Honua Ola (Living Earth) from Hu Honua does not change the reality that this form of so-called renewable energy is a bad example of state and county energy policy, and a poor choice by HELCO to meet its 2045 RPS goals, and completely fails to address the growing state of impacts from power plant emissions that are driving climate change.  This problem example is especially true when HELCO has cost-effective clean and renewable energy options available today.

Renewable energy is often falsely linked to low pollution and low climate change impacts.  The current deficiencies in state’s all-in energy policy designed to transition off fossil fuels allows many types of renewable energy and numerous ways it can be applied.  Some reduce and some raise pollution levels, some have lower and some have higher climate impacts, and some, as is the case with wind and solar are zero emissions (clean) energy options.

For Hu Honua, making electricity is all about cutting down Hawai’i Island’s forests to burn for energy, clogging local and inadequate road systems with a supply-chain of logging trucks, polluting the local air shed and producing waste by-products potentially toxic to Hawaii Island’s earth and water assets, altogether, here is an excellent example of taking Hawai’i in the opposite direction of becoming a self-sufficient and clean energy economy.

While HELCO continues to struggle to meet its 100% RPS goal by 2045, historically picking losers instead of winners to replace its costly and polluting diesel-fired power plants, it bet heavily on the Puna Geothermal Ventures plant, now shuttered thanks to Pele. Their announcement to, for the first time, embrace utility scale solar and battery storage area, is welcome news to Puna area residents who can now breathe easier and sleep at night, if and when they return to this very volcanic-active part of Hawai’i Island.

The historic utility grid model of a centralized power plant with miles and miles of cable and other utility infrastructure running in all directions only to serve customers at the end of those cables – represents the weakest point of failure for utility service reliability, and HELCO’s grid operation is no different.

Without power we are quickly back in the stone age.  Hawai’i Island residents also face another consequence from potential major power outages, one that keep emergency planners up at night: it’s a loss of water supply from the Department of Water Supply (DWS) and to its customers throughout the island.  Since January 2017, DWS has had a jaded reliability record, beginning with a series of still not fully explained well site failures. Only one of the five affected well sites has been restored to service in nearly two years.

A prolonged loss of HELCO-supplied power to DWS, by its own estimates, would result in the department’s ability to only operate and supply water to its customers for no more than 24 hour period.  No power to pumps – no water to customers.  There is no rooftop customer solution to this DWS water dependency, except a better prepared DWS operating with under back-up power in the event of the next major storm and an extended power blackout. One power-independent solution, the Lamamilo Wind Farm, currently serving as a dedicated alternative power supplier to DWS.


Hawaiian Electric, HELCO’s parent company announced on Oct. 9th, the company’s intention to establish two 30 Megawatt (MW) utility scale solar farms with back-up / load balancing battery systems equal to 240 MW in power storage. This is a major development for HELCO and the advancement of the Big Island’s clean energy future.

Not only are these two new zero-emissions power plants the right choice for Hawaii’s solar rich environment, with the promise to operate at a considerable lower cost to HELCO’s conventional power plants, while providing essential power security (at least their grid connection points) that otherwise would not be possible.   These two solar plants, if approved by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), will help displace 1.2 million barrels of fossil fuel per year, and hopefully save ratepayers money.

Following in the highly successful footsteps of KIUC (Kauai’s people’s utility), solar, wind, and batteries (in combination) are just arriving in time as utility-scale clean power solutions for HELCO. The utility right now needs help meeting its clean power power RPS requirements, and with community input, making the right power choices — no burning trees required.

Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawai‘i Electric Light (HELCO) already have more than 500 MW of renewable energy under contract, in addition to nearly 80,000 private rooftop systems in operation. The missing element for rooftop solar, by Hawaiian Electric standards, has been the four operating utilities seeming inability to accept clean power generation from their customers. These new clean power solar energy producers are not only solving the problem of Hawaii’s dependence on dirty energy, regardless of its source, but they are assisting HELCO and its sister companies in their state-mandated quest to go all-in with renewable energy by 2045.

If you already have solar panels on your rooftop or apartment building, you will clearly understand what follows…

Ask any solar rooftop homeowner, what is their number one priority for going solar. They may say with some pride, it’s being independent of the utility, saving money, doing the right thing, and/or charging their recently acquired Electric Vehicle (many more EV choices are coming to a dealer near you) with fuel-for-free from the sun.

A Tesla Energy (Solar City), customer benefit audit of an average Big Island home installed with a 8KW rooftop solar and four years operating history, looks like this:

  • $10,788 annual energy savings
  • 32.8 tons of CO2 (global warming gases) eliminated by avoiding through self-supply, utility-supplied and fossil-fueled electricity
  • The elimination of the equivalent exhaust pollution emissions, equal to NOT driving an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle a total of 77,638 miles

Whatever their reason, Hawaii’s residents and businesses with rooftop solar, especially in combination with battery back-up, find comfort in knowing they are ready to meet the challenges of an increasingly uncertain power security future, with preparedness, reliability, and power on-demand when the next super storm hits Hawai’i.

Hurricane Chart



Today’s energy decisions that we let others make for us affect our daily lives and have far-reaching consequences to our families, friends, and community.  

Our current assumptions about weather, climate, emergency preparedness and sustainability are now in question as fast-moving global and local developments challenge this thinking on which Hawaii’s private and public dollars are spent.

The world’s oceans continue to warm at a fast rate, coupled to coral die-offs, sea-level rise, more hurricanes, and super storms that are becoming the norm.  This is especially important to Hawai’i, an island state, as hurricanes draw their energy from deep below the ocean’s surface – up to depths of 2,000 meters. The temperature at these depths is measured by Ocean Heat Content, a metric that has soared since 1970, driven largely by four of the world’s major oceans. Last year was the hottest on record.

One thing island residents can rely on is the rising cost of daily living.  The role energy plays is central to that cost of living, and the food, water and power security on which we depend. The technology and system costs associated with clean energy choices, such as solar, wind, and battery storage continue to drop.

When Hawai’i considers alternatives to it current fossil fuel energy dependencies, the cost of kilowatt hour (KwH) delivered, a gallon gas-diesel pumped, to Hawaii’s environment on which we all depend, the sum of Hawaii’s energy costs are greater than its parts.