By Henry Curtis
Molokai is facing a threat to its way of life. HECO’s Big Wind proposal would destroy the `aina and restrict access. None of the power would be used on Molokai. The wind would enable Oahu residents to continue to waste energy.
At its recent 2012 annual meeting, Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) bragged that for the last six years its utilities (HECO, MECO, HELCO) have earned a higher rate of return than the average American electric utility, while at the same time they have reduced risk. They transferred risk to us and rewarded themselves with our money.
Since the Wall Street financial scam, HECO has voted to give their top executives pay increases, short-term incentive increases, long-term incentive increases and bonuses, while seeking to cut pay to their union employees.
This crisis has within it the seeds of a new future.
Currently, Molokai exports $17 million per year to buy fossil fuel for electricity and transportation. What if Molokai created its own energy hui to produce energy locally?
This would keep money circulating within Molokai, increase local employment, and increase Molokai’s self-sufficiency.
Electric cooperatives serve 42 million people in 47 states, selling 10 percent of the nation’s electricity. They serve the ratepayers of Kauai and the cities of Los Angeles, California and San Antonio, Texas. Small electric cooperatives have only 500-1,000 ratepayers.
Electric cooperatives have access to grants, governmental loans and low interest rates. The feds lent the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) money to takeover the local utility.
Molokai can do the same thing.
A Molokai hui could employ MECO’s 15-member Molokai workforce and raise funds to acquire energy efficiency and renewable energy systems.
Imagine lowering your electric bill through paying a local energy hui for an on-site solar panel. When the panel was paid off, your solar energy would be free.
Imagine using existing rooftops, water pipes, lakes and farm land to produce energy and fuel.
Say NO to Big Wind. Say YES to energy freedom.
Henry Curtis has been executive director of Life of the Land since 1995. The non-profit organization, founded in 1970, serves as a Hawaii-based environmental and community action group. Its stated mission: “To preserve and protect the life of the land through sustainable land use and energy policies and to promote open government through research, education, advocacy and, when necessary, litigation.”