See the light -- make the change to save energy
October is national Energy Awareness Month and this year, energy is "top of mind" for more Hawaii residents.
True, much attention focuses on gasoline prices. But the higher cost of fuel for electricity (which is passed through to our customers at no profit to Hawaiian Electric Co.) and HECO's recent interim rate increase remind us that we need to focus more attention on our use of energy in all forms.
Pain in the pocketbook is a powerful persuader, but other reasons compel us to think about how we use energy. Hawaii has a strong and creditable record on renewable energy, but we rely almost entirely for the rest of our energy on imported oil, not just for gasoline and jet fuel, but also for electricity and even synthetic natural gas some use for cooking and water heating. It all starts as pricey crude oil that comes from far away and affects our environment.
Further, while we are all typically using more electricity in our homes and businesses, no new generating plants have been built on Oahu in 13 years. This means Oahu's generation reserves are getting thinner. We are heading into a power crunch.
HECO is committed to a "mixed plate" approach to our energy future that must include more conservation and efficiency, more renewable resources, distributed generation and another power plant by 2009.
We are working to raise awareness through events like the Live Energy Lite! celebration today at Ala Moana Center. The celebration offers great entertainment, interactive displays, games and prizes, including a chance to win a 2006 Toyota Prius courtesy of Servco Hawaii. Everyone is welcome.
In another partnership, HECO, General Electric and the local GE distributor, Webco Hawaii, are challenging the people of Oahu to buy and install 100,000 compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs by Dec. 31.
This is part of the national Energy Star "Change a Light, Change the World Campaign." With a dollar-off coupon, you can get a pair of GE Spiral CFL Bulbs equivalent to soft white 40, 60, 75 or 100 watts that fit most standard fixtures.
Get your coupons at the Live Energy Lite! celebration, in your monthly electric bill, from our Web site at www.heco.com or at participating stores. You can use as many as you like at Longs Drugs, Times Supermarket, Foodland, City Mill, Daiei and 7-Eleven stores.
Why CFLs? They use about 75 percent less energy than old-fashioned incandescent bulbs for the same amount of light. CFLs also last up to 10 times longer and emit less heat.
The goal is big because it is important for everyone to get more active in conserving electricity. By installing 100,000 CFLs, we can together save nearly $1 million over the life of these bulbs and avoid burning nearly 11,000 barrels of imported oil, helping to protect the environment.
A lot more is happening this month. A few examples:
» An updated version of HECO's "Energy Tips and Choices" booklet is now posted at heco.com.
» City Mill and HECO are partnering to promote low-cost, easy-to-install devices that save energy. Look for in-store displays and Live Energy Lite! hang tags on products.
» HECO is talking about Hawaii's Energy Future to the Hawaii Association of Science Teachers at its annual conference and the Hawaii State Teachers Association's Teachers Institute, to get information into high schools about conservation and renewables.
On the renewable energy front, HECO's plan to put a wind farm above our Kahe Power Plant was rejected, but discussions are getting under way with the Kahuku community and the U.S. Army about a wind farm in that area.
Wind is just one renewable energy resource we are pursuing. We are looking at increased use of hydro-electricity, municipal solid waste and landfill gas and others that we are helping to investigate, like wave power. And we continue to urge everyone to consider solar water heaters.
Meanwhile, wise energy use is here and now, and all our efforts are needed to make it successful. You can start by being one to see the light -- install some of those 100,000 CFLs.
Dave Waller is vice president of customer solutions at Hawaiian Electric Co.