KIUC 15 Years after the Crash

SUBHEAD: Without a clue our suburban power company drives into the future searching their rear view mirror. [Author's note: Mea culpa. Simply put 2023-2008 is 15 not 25. The original title of this article was "KIUC 25 Years after the Crash" and should be "KIUC 15 Years after the Crash". None the less, I don't think we have time time or finances to pull off their plan to keep the 21st century spinning.] By Juan Wilson on 27 March 2011 for Island Breath - ( Image above: A Toyota truck crash on NASCAR circuit. From ( This week we learned the results of the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative board of directors election by coop members. On March 24th the Garden Island News ran an article titled "KIUC members vote to stay the course with board" ( By "stay the course" they meant that the incumbents were all reelected and those expressing a commitment to sustainability on Kauai were defeated. Those we supported who lost included Ken Stokes - 2,098 votes, Pat Gegen - 2,074 votes, and Kuleialoha Santos - 1,854 votes. What this means is that the lifestyle on this island will continue to be more of the same - until we can't be anymore... and then we'll be f#%ked up! We won't have a diverse, distributed, resilient, renewable energy system. We'll be caught in a hell of our own making. KIUC continues believe that our centralized grid will provide all the power we are now accustomed to 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, forever. In 2008 KIUC revealed a 15 year strategic plan to generate 50% of Kauai's electricity with renewable alternative sources by 2023. They think they have that much time. They don't. KIUC also thinks they'll have the ability to finance alternative sources (like solar, biomass and hydro), or be able to afford buying electricity from third party providers and then reselling it to KIUC members well into the future. They don't.
  • Long before 2023, and perhaps before 2012, the problems of turmoil against dictators in the Middle-East and Northern Africa will raise oil prices beyond the economy killing $147 we hit in 2008.
  • Long before 2023 the collapse of the Japanese industrialized economy (due to earthquake, tsunami and a nuclear reactor meltdown, there will be a general abandonment of nuclear energy by many countries in the "first" world. These events will put the kybosh on delivering cheap, abundant, safe power to the global economy.
  • Long before 2023 the extremes and irregularity of weather will reduce grain crops needed for an increasingly hungry and overpopulated world. Therefore we will have no ethanol or biofuel available for even the most wealthy economies to fill their tanks.
And long before 2023 the members of KIUC will have gone out on their own and bought small solar voltaic systems, or perhaps a small wind generators, just to fill in times of rolling blackouts that will be experienced by the KIUC community. America will be much impoverished in the next few years. States, including Hawaii, will have public jobs and services slashed just to accommodate the financial disaster of the Great Recession. In the next phase of our economic transformation we will not have $10 trillion dollars to throw at the problem. Thus the Great Retrenchment - all the way back to peak of pre-fossil fueled industrialized civilization. For the Americans and Europeans that would be a technology something like that found between 1750-1800. The corporate consumer sector will likely wither, unable to make money on this distant outpost in the ocean. What business there is will be done by those who are self-employed professionals, operate cottage industries, or provide neighborhood services. By 2023 it is likely that people will be using less than 25% of the energy they are using today - and that will be provided not by KIUC, but by burning renewables at a replaceable rate - wood for cooking and kukui nuts for light. There may even be a few well maintained backyard and neighborhood alternative energy generating systems put into place before the KIUC grid goes down. My advice is to take your federal tax refund and stock up on a few photovoltaic panels, a charge controller, some deep cycle batteries, heavy cables and a 11oVAC inverter. You don't have to set them up now. After the next crash you'll have to wait until the rubble stops bouncing and then get up on the roof. Then that PV system investment will be better than cash in the bank and may get you through some dark nights to see how the KIUC strategy finally works out in 2023. See also: Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai Hydro Projects Power Up 1/18/11 Ea O Ka Aina: KIUC Wailua Dam Plans 1/17/11 Ea O Ka Aina: Westside Solar Farm 2011 1/3/10 Ea O Ka Aina: KIUC $75 million GenX Plant 8/1/09 .

1 comment :

Joseph Michael Culhane said...

Mahalo Juan for your words. It's time to get moving, there are still ways to build resilience, brief though it may be we can collectively still make magnificent things happen in short order!

Mahalo again for your words, I am grateful you and all those at Island Breath are doing what your doing. It is a helpful part of the solution.


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