Bad Energy in Hawaii

SUBHEAD: Hawaii Public Utility Commission reality check in post HECO-NextEra merger environment.

By Henry Curtis on 26 May 2016 for Ililani Medoa -

Image above: Hawaiian Electric Industries President and CEO Connie Lau stands with Jim Robo, CEO of NextEra Energy announcing takeover plan in January. From (

[IB Publisher's note: The PUC and Hawaii Electric Industries have been pulling the state in the wrong direction for some time. Bringing in cut-throat NextEra energy company and importing Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) from fracked wells in British Colombia and Alberta is not a solution to an energy problem but a boondoggle and risk to the environment of Hawaii.]

Bloomberg News announced on May 24 that NextEra Energy Inc.’s proposed $4.3 billion takeover of Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. is looking increasingly less likely as the company gets a new chance to buy Oncor Electric unit of Energy Future Holdings Corp, the largest power distributor in Texas.

Hawaiian Electric Industries CEO Connie Lau, HEI Chief Financial Officer James Ajello, and the then NextEra Vice Chairman and CFO Moray Dewhurst offered contradictory statements and testimony regarding the $90-95 million breakup fee that NextEra may pay to HEI if the deal is not approved by June 3, and NextEra were to walk away from the deal.

The money would go to HEI and its shareholders, not HECO and its ratepayers.

The breakup language is an extremely complex document written by lawyers.

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission was widely expected to issue a decision in the late summer or fall of 2016. PUC staff lawyers, economists and accountants are pouring through the 110,000-page record

With the announcement of the potential breakup, the PUC can suspend their analysis for a few weeks to see if the breakup really happens.

During the next few weeks the PUC can put greater effort on two major efforts underway:
  • The evaluation of the HECO Companies Power Supply Improvement Plans (PSIPs) which state alternative plans for the utility between now and 2045.
  • PUC's Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Working Group which is seeking to advise the Commission on ways of increasing rooftop solar penetration, while accounting for interconnection standards, safety, reliability, and rate structures.
The Commission can also focus on the HECO dockets opened in the last six months which have yet to really start.

HECO`s Utility-Scale Community-Based Renewable Energy Application
A HECO-designed special time-of-use rate structure for the Department of Education
HECO Companies Demand Response Program
An updated Power Purchase Agreement between HECO and the 200MW AES coal-burning facility in Campbell Industrial Park
HELCO purchase of Hamakua Energy Partners generator
HECO`s proposed $736.0 million Smart Grid (which includes ten inter-related and/or independent subcomponents
HECO`s proposal to import largely fracked Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from British Columbia at a cost of $459.3 million
HECO`s request for a waiver from Competitive Bidding for a new Kahe generation facility
HECO`s proposed $859.0 million Kahe Power Plant

The PUC “regulates 1625 entities, which includes all chartered, franchised, certificated, and registered public utility companies that provide electricity, gas, telecommunications, private water and sewage, and motor and water carrier transportation services in the State.”

Earlier this month, Sandwich Isles Communications and Pa Makani LLC, dba Sandwich Isles Wireless filed applications with the PUC to renew their Annual Certification as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier.

For the past two decades the Hawai`i Department of Hawaiian Home Land has given the politically connected Sandwich Isles, the exclusive rights to provide phone service for new customers on Hawaiian Home Lands.

The Federal Communications Commission provided Sandwich Isles, $830 per customer per month from the Universal Service Fund to subsidize phone service.

Earlier the year Federal Judge Susan Oki Mollway gave Sandwich Isles President Albert S.N. Hee a 46-month sentence for providing “false” salaries to family members, college tuition for his children, family vacations, massages and dozens of other personal expenses. Al Hee is the brother of former State Senator Clayton Hee.

HECO to import Canadian LNG

SUBHEAD: research confirms a link between fracking and almost every large induced earthquake in B.C.

By Henry Curtis on 25 May 2016 for Ililani Medoa -

Image above: A LNG tanker ship at port. From (

Hawaiian Electric Company has signed a Fuel Supply Agreement with Fortis Hawaii Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Fortis Inc., headquartered in Newfoundland, Canada.

The gas would be exported from their facility on Tilsbury Island in British Columbia.

The facility is about twenty miles north of the U.S. Border and twenty miles south of Vancouver. The deal must be approved by the Public Utilities Commission.

Importing LNG would require a vast infrastructure overhaul. HECO asserted they will need to spend $859 million building the new Kahe generator facility and another $459.3 million on the LNG system.

Ronald Cox, HECO`s Vice President for Power Supply, submitted testimony in the LNG application which stated that the importation of LNG has a double condition, requiring approval of both the HECO-NextEra merger and the Kahe combined cycle facility.

HECO asserted that LNG “burns cleaner,” and it is “the lowest cost alternative for compliance with future environmental regulatory requirements.”

Life of the Land became the first group to file a Motion to Intervene in the proceedings. Their 383-page motion detailed the problems from importing gas from British Columbia.

CBC News reported that the British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission confirmed the 4.4-magnitude earthquake in 2014 was "triggered by fluid injection during hydraulic fracturing," making it one of world's largest earthquakes ever triggered by the controversial fracking process."

Canadian Earthquakes are different from American Earthquakes according to a scientific article in the current issue of Seismological Research Letters, published by the Seismological Society of America.
“In the central United States, most induced seismicity is linked to deep disposal of coproduced wastewater from oil and gas extraction.

In contrast, in western Canada most recent cases of induced seismicity are highly correlated in time and space with hydraulic fracturing, during which fluids are injected under high pressure during well completion to induce localized fracturing of rock.

Furthermore, it appears that the maximum-observed magnitude of events associated with hydraulic fracturing may exceed the predictions of an often-cited relationship between the volume of injected fluid and the maximum expected magnitude.”

Canada’s #1 national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, reported that the report “looked at 12,289 fracking wells and 1,236 waste-water wells in an area along the B.C.-Alberta border.” The regulating agency responded, “the BC Oil and Gas Commission says the research does not raise any safety concerns.”

"There's bad news and good news when it comes to fracking and earthquakes in Western Canada, according to new research from a paper co-authored by a Geological Survey of Canada scientist,: according to CNC News.

"The new research confirms a definitive link between hydraulic fracturing and almost every large induced earthquake recorded in B.C. and Alberta's oil and gas patches since 1985.

In other words, scientists now have evidence that 90 per cent of seismic events over magnitude 3.0 that shook the region were triggered by crews fracking for oil and gas underground."

The Council of Canadian Academies published “Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction in Canada: The Expert Panel on Harnessing Science and Technology to Understand the Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction.”

The report was misrepresented in HECO`s application which basically asserted that the analysis found no problem. Actually the 292-page report found a lack of data and analysis.

The report noted that Canada is “the world’s third-largest natural gas producer, fourth-largest exporter, and possessing vast shale gas resources of its own, Canada has a major stake in this new source of energy."

“The Council of Canadian Academies was asked by the federal Minister of Environment to assemble an expert panel to assess the state of knowledge about the impacts of shale gas exploration, extraction, and development in Canada.

In response, the Council recruited a multidisciplinary panel of experts from Canada and the United States to conduct an evidence-based and authoritative assessment supported by relevant and credible peer reviewed research.

As with all Council panels, members were selected for their experience and knowledge, not to represent any particular stakeholder group. The report does not include recommendations, since policy prescription falls outside the Council’s mandate.”

The Report detailed the nature of the shale deposits and the problems that exist.

"The rapid expansion of shale gas development in Canada over the past decade has occurred without a corresponding investment in monitoring and research addressing the impacts on the environment, public health, and communities."

"The primary concerns are the degradation of the quality of groundwater and surface water (including the safe disposal of large volumes of wastewater); the risk of increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (including fugitive methane emissions during and after production), thus exacerbating anthropogenic climate change; disruptive effects on communities and land; and adverse effects on human health.

Other concerns include the local release of air contaminants and the potential for triggering small- to moderate-sized earthquakes in seismically active areas."

"These concerns will vary by region. The shale gas regions of Canada can be found near urban areas in the south and in remote regions in the northwest, presenting a large diversity in their geology, hydrology, land uses, and population density."

"The phrase environmental impacts from shale gas development masks many regional differences that are essential to understanding these impacts.”

The Pembina Institute was formed following the 1981 Lodgepole sour gas accident in Alberta, which killed two people and polluted the air for weeks. A small group of rural Albertans came together to secure tougher regulations for drilling sour gas wells, and later went on to form the Pembina Institute.

"We conclude that natural gas has a role to play in a world that avoids 2°C of warming, but that role is unlikely to materialize unless shaped by strong climate change policies in the jurisdictions that produce and consume the gas. Because these policies are not currently in place, claiming that natural gas, and specifically LNG from BC, is a climate solution is inaccurate."

The British Columbia government believes greenhouse gas “targets for 2020 will be extremely difficult to meet.” Therefore, provincial standards have been abandoned and instead future national standards will apply.

Climate Change News reported earlier this year that “British Columbia’s carbon pollution is going up while five other Canadian provinces are bringing their greenhouse gas emissions down.”
The Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

Among the 2,240 Ramsar Sites located around the world are Kawai Nui and Hamakua Marsh on Windward O`ahu and the lower Fraser River Delta. The Fortis facility at Delta on Tilsbury Island, British Columbia site is wholly within the lower Fraser River Delta Ramsar site. This site will be expanded to handle exports to Hawai`i.

A report by geoscientist David Hughes asserted that it includes “poisoned water wells, containment ponds that leaked their deadly post-fracking contents into rivers killing fish, and municipal wastewater plants damaged by the industry's corrosive wastewater.”

The report notes fracking occurs in “nearly 90 per cent of all new gas wells in B.C.”


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