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Public Opposition Forces High Electricity Prices in Hawaii

maiorino, al, public strategy groupIn 1993 the Puna Geothermal Venture power plant opened in the state of Hawaii and established the state as a leader in geothermal technology as an early adopter. The plant is designed to take advantage of the incredible heat generated by the largest volcano on earth, Mauna Loa. It has been over two decades since the opening of this first power plant, and it might be natural to assume that geothermal energy production in volcanic Hawaii has prospered since then. However, Hawaii currently has the most expensive electricity rates in the United States due to its continued dependence on imported energy.

Because Hawaii lacks vast reserves of coal or natural gas, energy imports remain the norm, such that in 2010, the state imported a whopping 94 percent of its energy. However, one the largest natural sources of power that Hawaii does possess is geothermal activity from volcanoes. Unfortunately, further geothermal progress beyond the 20 year-old Puna plant has been held up by staunch opposition from some state residents. For this reason, electricity in Hawaii is twice as expensive as the next highest state, Alaska, and nearly three times the US average. It is an ironic paradox that the state is entirely a product of active geothermic activity, but this form energy is hardly being utilized to increase local energy production and lower electricity costs.

Objections to geothermal energy exploration and production in Hawaii stem in part from residents who would prefer not to live near a geothermal facility. These objectors are putting forth a “Not in My Backyard” (or NIMBY) argument that is prevalent for many types of energy proposals. Though geothermal energy generation is practically emission free, these opponents place more emphasis on misconceptions about negative land value adjustments, gas emissions, and odors rather than the state-wide benefits of inexpensive, local, sustainable power for all Hawaiians.

With states devoting a larger share of energy portfolios to renewable sources, there exists great opportunity for the geothermal industry. As the nation progresses deeper into the 21st century renewable sources of energy will become a key part of every state’s energy portfolio. What geothermal energy providers must ask themselves now is what can be done going forward to reach every resident near a potential geothermal project to make sure supporters are identified so costly delays in the approval process can be avoided. There are several effective tactics detailed below than can be pursued to ensure a clean and affordable energy future for Hawaii.

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4 thoughts on “Public Opposition Forces High Electricity Prices in Hawaii

  1. This is such smoke and mirrors Myths and misconceptions my eye He does not live here and gets paid to spin. Geothermal is not clean not green and not renewable it relies on imported isopentane to run efficiently (isopentanene is oil)
    Ask the area residents the over 100 who were poisoned on Aug 7th by releases from PGV Geothermal is not going to lower the price of electricity what will is all the new technology in the field of solar coming about as we speak SO STOP LISTENING TO THIS PAID FOR LOAD MOUTH THAT KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT WHAT HE IS TALKING ABOUT.

  2. Although there is a strong community opposition to geothermal by neighbors of the Puna Geothermal Venture plant, I know of no analysis that would indicate such opposition is primarily responsible for high rates of electricity. In fact, I suspect but careful scrutiny would indicate that community opposition to geothermal has had very little impact on the local electrical rates.

  3. I find incomprehensible the argument that if Project X benefits people from Area A and harms quality of life for people from Area B, people from B should graciously accept Project X in deference to neighbors in A. If, in fact, Project X is of great benefit to many people, it should be rather easy to provide a package to those in B that would make the project acceptable.

  4. Saying the high price of electricity in Hawaii is because of geothermal is simply not true, and should be a red flag to everyone reading this.

    My bet, he is getting paid to spin geothermal because they are in trouble, and they know it.

    In fact, more geothermal actually would be an expensive energy choice for Hawaii going forward with pay backs on investments of 20 to 30 years.

    Distribution cost are the biggest problem for any centralized power producer in Hawaii for the foreseeable future, and the market is correcting itself by moving away from those increasing cost through increasing distributed and decentralized power produced where it is needed. That is happening in spite of industry and political efforts to stop it. The market will determine the winners here not pr specialist.

    Avoided cost (price of oil) for electrical production on Hawaii Island is about 18 cents but retail customers pay around 43 cents.

    The most sensible and realistic way to actually reduce cost would be to follow the global trends that are doing that successfully already.

    Cutting the distribution cost associated with large centralized power plants by producing more power where it is needed is how we will reduce energy cost in Hawaii not more geothermal.

    What he should have said is geothermal in Hawaii is a dinosaur.

    Energy production and delivery systems are evolving, geothermal as large centralized power plants is already economically obsolete to anyone who looks at and understands global energy trends and the growing energy technology race.

    Hawaii’s mostly still untapped vast solar resource potential, the ever falling prices for solar tech, and the new storage technologies now emerging, paint a convincing picture that geothermal’s not going be able to economically meet the future of energy production needs in Hawaii

    More very costly large centralized geothermal production would move Hawaii energy policy and production in a dangerous direction for ratepayers. Modern decentralized power production is the cutting edge in power supplies globally right now.The future is here, Hawaii best set energy policy accordingly instead of letting the large energy monopolies continue to dictate energy policy.

    The existing energy grid in Hawaii is basically not that different than the 18th century technology nailing a wire to a tree.

    Look up smart grid cost if you want to know what the Utilities and geothermal developers have planned and are trying to sell you. Billions is what it will cost. Who do you think is going to pay for that? How will that ever bring cost down? It will not, distribution cost are going to rise.

    We (consumers) now have a choice we have never had before, and we will vote with our wallets. Energy cost will come down but not because of geothermal, they will come down because we can leave the grid and go independent.

    You can now buy an electric car, charge it with your own solar system and now you save all the money you were spending on gas on top of getting your home or business power for less than geothermal could ever do it.

    Geothermal will fail not because of community opposition but because the market will not tolerate the high cost.

    The pay back on a geothermal plant @ 5 million a megawatt is twenty to thirty years. Before they could even build a new one here, if they found a resource, a buyer for the power, and could even get a permit, it would be economically obsolete.

    If the high cost is not bad enough, the environmental impact to the surrounding community is terrible. I would bet most people still do not know that there have been at least 17 civil defense declared emergencies at the PGV plant. Whole families have had to run for their health and safety because of frequent geothermal toxic gas releases far to often. They have not even figured out how to operate the one they have safely after more than 20 years.

    Can anyone please name another power plant in Hawaii that regularly sends residents running for safety?

    Geothermal has failed in Hawaii, if the people pushing for more geo can get anyone to invest more money in this loser I feel sorry for them. You all have missed the geothermal money boat and you do not even seem to know why my friend, but you are getting a fat check anyway I bet. I wonder who’s money that is? It is not likely investors will see a return using in arguments like this.

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