Thursday, June 13, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Wednesday, February 7, 2024
Blackouts cast doubt on renewable energy mandates
By Grassroot Institute @ 4:10 PM :: 1487 Views :: Energy, Environment

Blackouts cast doubt on renewable energy mandates

by Joe Kent, Grassroot Institute, February 4, 2024

Hawaii’s rolling blackouts on Jan. 8 gave residents a lot of time to wonder whether this could become a regular occurrence on the state’s journey to reach 100% renewable energy by the year 2045.

It appears Hawaii lawmakers might have been a little too ambitious when they decided in 2015 to become the first state in the nation to set that audacious policy goal.

Now, almost 10 years later, with rolling blackouts possibly looming in our future, state lawmakers probably should reconsider their original conversion timetable — if not ask whether the 100% renewable energy goal is feasible at all.

There are many reasons to think that it isn’t — especially in Hawaii.

In fact, Hawaiian Electric blamed reduced solar and wind power as a partial cause of the blackouts, along with several of its fossil-fuel generators being down for maintenance and two others, each over 70 years old, experiencing operating problems.

Making matters worse, HECO couldn’t draw power from the AES coal plant since the state forced that to close in September 2022 — even though it had been in operation for only 30 years, which is young by coal plant standards.

The AES coal plant supplied 180 megawatts of electricity that could have helped prevent or at least mitigate the rolling blackouts.

Basically, HECO simply ran short on Jan. 8 of so-called firm power, which the U.S. Energy Information Administration defines as “power or power-producing capacity intended to be available at all times during the period covered by a guaranteed commitment to deliver, even under adverse conditions.”

Solar and wind turbines are generally not considered to be firm power since sometimes the sun doesn’t shine and the winds don’t blow.

To be fair, Hawaiian Electric had a rolling blackout episode several years before the coal plant was shuttered. But the difference now is that Oahu relies on twice as much renewable energy today as it did in 2015 — 987 megawatts versus 470 megawatts, respectively — meaning Oahu’s electrical grid is becoming more vulnerable to cloudy skies and calm winds.

That, in turn, means that as the state ramps up its share of renewable sources, residents might be checking the weather to see whether they might be eating dinner by candlelight.

A supposed solution to this problem is to use renewable biofuels, such as those derived from agricultural products. But they aren’t cheap. In fact, they are 70% to 130% more expensive than fossil fuels, which would translate into higher energy costs for Hawaii consumers who already are paying triple for their power compared to consumers on the mainland.

Large batteries won’t help much either, since they also rely increasingly on finicky renewable sources that might fail under “adverse conditions” — which is what happened on Jan. 8.

All of which is to say, our lawmakers need to get serious about whether their quest to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2045 is in the best interest of Hawaii.

At the very least, they should be asking whether the end date should be pushed off sometime further into the future, perhaps after other states have dealt with the more novel issues involved in reaching the 100% goal.

Or maybe they could just abandon Hawaii’s energy mandates altogether, which might be the best way to allow flexibility and choice while keeping our electric bills low and home and office lights on.

(Commentary originally published in the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle on Feb. 4, 2024.)


TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


Aloha Pregnancy Care Center


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii Military History

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Together


Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

July 4 in Hawaii

Land and Power in Hawaii

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

NRA-ILA Hawaii


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

School Choice in Hawaii

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii