Kauai's Clean Energy ‏

SUBHEAD: Hawaii's Clean Energy Initiative comes to Kauai. By Ben Sullivan on 11 February 2009 in Island Breath - (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2009/02/hawaiis-clean-energy-initiative-comes.html) Image above: "Energy Plant" composite image from http://www.urbansprout.co.za/green_energy_trends_for_2008 For those who were not able to make it, last night’s (Tuesday's) presentation on the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative was a great success. We had a full house of over 120 people and all listened excitedly to the four speakers who presented discussion in this landmark agreement. For those who could not make it, Diane Zachary and KPAA, who brought us the event, have posted the presentations on their website. For years, many of us on Kauai have clamored for transformational change in the way we make, use, and think about energy. The concerns around climate change, oil depletion, and the general economic debilitation associated with our globally unrivalled petroleum addiction have come to a boil on our small Pacific Isle. We have listened, learned, and discussed a great deal about the potential for a wide array of solutions to these problems. At times we have been rational, thoughtful, and open-minded. At times we have been passionate, insistent, and maybe even a bit naïve. In the end, though, we have held doggedly to a common goal of ‘turning this boat around’ and ultimately sending those oil barges back from where they came. Although far from complete, and (like all of us) far from perfect, the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative is the clearest, most direct, aggressive, and meaningful response our State has issued to date to this ever-broadening global crisis, and sets a clear path for how we might respond here in Hawaii, and even here on Kauai.. I say ‘might respond’ here for three important reasons. First; For those who have read the October 20th agreement, one of the most important realizations is that it is a point of beginning. In my own humble opinion, it’s most important quality is its vision. The HCEI agreement proposes bold action with specific, tangible directions, but does not take the 20th century hyper-conservative utility approach of only proposing things that have been proven and engineered down the last rivet. The initiative proposes sweeping changes, and takes inspiration from the growing national sentiment of ‘yes, we can’. Second; We all clearly recognize that the HCEI agreement is not THE response to our global crisis, it is ONE response. Our addiction to oil oozes into every aspect of our community. The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative addresses a significant piece of this, but it is up to us to bring the rest of it to the table. Our move towards a sustainable Kauai includes many efforts outside HCEI’s scope that we are already knee deep in; increasing public transportation reducing energy use in water and wastewater eliminating solid waste feeding ourselves with local farming Rethinking relationships to our living systems Third; The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, both figuratively and actually, has not yet made its way across the Kauai Channel. Although we will never get the undersea cable the plan proposes for the other major islands, we will get the full support of the HCEI Team, to the extent that our COOP chooses to engage them. We do hope and believe that our COOP is listening, although their most recent IRP, which came out around the same time last fall, looked a bit more like business as usual than HCEI’s transformational vision. The ’08 IRP (pdf) openly discloses a strong reliance on the petroleum price forecasts of the US EIA in reaching its recommendations for our COOP. This is somewhat confounding, but clearly a strategic point the COOP recognizes as a weakness. Speaking with Randy Hee about this point after the event last night, he said to me; “Who the heck knows where the price of oil is going?” I think Randy really hit the nail on the head there; It is clear based on our experience over the last few years that petroleum is simply not a reliable source of energy. Given this realization, HCEI’s ‘official arrival’ on Kauai is not a moment too soon. Now that our community has been formally introduced to the HCEI discussion, we can and should all look forward to a full embrace of this initiative by our Cooperative Board of Directors, who are responsible for setting our direction at the COOP. Oh yeah, one last very small detail. I do ask for your vote, and if your willing, even your advocacy, in the upcoming Board of Directors Elections. If elected to one of the three open seats, I promise to vote ‘yes’ to our clean energy future. • Ben Sullivan is a Community Energy Advocate & Candidate, KIUC Board of Directors
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