HECO seems cool to wind, solar power
IT WAS A little weird to see Hawaiian Electric Co. blowing off Castle & Cooke's plan to build a huge wind farm on Lanai. Also weird that HECO would appear to be cool to Castle & Cooke's hot solar farm idea. Hawaiian Electric talks a good game when it comes to promoting alternative energy sources, but becomes kind of coy, like a blushing debutante, when a suitor shows up on the doorstep with a bouquet of privately generated electricity.
So what are we to make of the electric company's shocking -- shall we say -- indifference to clean, green energy offered on a environmentally friendly platter? Especially since we can hardly turn on the television without seeing Jade Moon, the lovely former TV news anchor and now HECO chief spokeswoman on alternative energy, telling us what a wonderful, clean, green planet-saving machine Hawaii will become under HECO's energy guidance.
When C&C announced it would build massive wind and solar farms costing near $800 million on Lanai -- the island conveniently owned by C&C boss David Murdock -- HECO sort of sighed and said, yeah, well, you know, wind's nice but, hey, it comes and goes and, the sun, well, not much of it at night ... we really love alternative energy but let's not get all crazy over it because, you know, it's not all that reliable and we need RELIABLE sources of power generation and everyone knows those only come in barrels from our Arab and Indonesian friends."
OK, HECO officials didn't actually say that, but neither did they kiss Murdock on the lips for trying to ease Hawaii's dependence on the stuff Jed Clampett called "black gold, Texas tea."
BUT WHY? Is it possible HECO is addicted to oil?
I came across this curious statement on HECO's own Web site: "Will using less oil to produce electricity significantly reduce Hawaii's crude oil imports? No. Hawaii imports crude oil that is then refined into many oil products -- liquefied petroleum gas, jet fuel, naphtha, gasoline, diesel and synthetic natural gas ... Most of the electricity in Hawaii is generated using residual fuel oil ... the byproduct remaining AFTER other oil products have been refined from the crude oil ... If residual fuel oil were not used to produce electricity, Hawaii would likely have to export it or find some other use for the 'leftover' oil."
Why does HECO seem so concerned with what happens to "leftover" oil when you'd think its main interest would be weaning Hawaii off the black-gold teat? Why does it care if Chevron gets stuck with residual oil? Jade, call me.
I applaud Murdock's wind and solar energy plans, but if he really wanted to bring clean reliable electricity to Hawaii he'd buy a couple of used nuclear-powered submarines and plug them into the grid off Barber's Point. With Hawaii houses, cars, buses and trains all running on nuclear-power generated electricity, HECO would have a harder time explaining its peculiar infatuation with oil.
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