HECO Plan to cripple….er….triple solar by 2030

bill-problemHECO got their revised “Electric Power Supply Improvement Plan” into the PUC just under the wire.  They laud it as “tripling rooftop solar by 2030” but solar installers I’ve spoken with say it is more a plan to “cripple rooftop solar.”  Improvement might be just a little bit of an overstatement.

HECO proposes raising the connection fee from $18/mo to $51/mo for existing customers and a whopping $71/mo for new rooftop solar customers.

That immediately changes the payback period from 3 1/2  years to 4.5 years.  The payback period is the time to recoup one’s investment via utility bill savings.

But wait!  It gets worse!

HECO wants to charge an interconnection fee to new rooftop solar customers of $1,500 per KW installed.  Since the average system is about 5KW, this means that in addition to paying for the PV system, the customer will have another $7,500 tacked on to their bill!

Now the payback period is looking more like 14 years.  That’s such a lengthy payback that very few people will even consider installing rooftop solar.

So tell us, HECO, just exactly how will quadrupling  the payback period result in tripling the amount of installed rooftop solar?

But wait!  There’s more!

HECO wants to abandon net metering.  With net metering a customer essentially sells at retail but loses any excess generation over a year.  So they really are selling at some number under retail price of electricity.  What HECO wants is to buy the energy at wholesale and sell the customer at retail.  This alone increases the payback period to 8 years.

What happens when it becomes too expensive to install solar while connected to the grid?  The “Utility Death Spiral” begins.  In that scenario, it becomes cheaper to go off grid with battery backup than to pay utility bills.   As more and more customers go off grid, it becomes more expensive for those left on the grid.

HECO might think that making renewable energy more expensive than abandoning the idea of rooftop solar will prevent it from participating in the death spiral but it is more likely to accelerate it.  A better plan would be to calculate the monthly connection cost to be less than the customer would pay for battery backup and not pile on extra charges that encourage customers to go off grid.

This “Death Spiral” is not advantageous to society.  It is cheaper over-all for customers to be able to install rooftop solar and use the grid for backup.  An interconnected utility can supply backup at a lower cost – especially if they invest in pumped hydro to store excess generation and return it during low generation times.

Even if we discount the interconnection fee and the loss of net metering, the $71/mo cost of connection for new customers is getting quite close to the cost of a battery backup system.  When we pile on the interconnection fee and end net metering, there’s absolutely no reason for a customer of HECO not to go off grid.

ACLU files suit to prevent certification of election

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Big Island residents Frances and Merrill Lathers, Cassandra Wylie, Brad L. Coffel, Kathleen Walker, and Andrew Leo alleging that the State Office of Elections should have allowed two other precincts (04-03 and 04-04) the opportunity to vote at a later time as they did with precincts 04-01 and 04-02.

The first thing that jumps to mind is that Colleen Hanabusa, having made the political calculation that filing to contest the election results would make her even more unpopular, is using these folks as a front to accomplish the same thing.

This does not appear to be the case.

Read more

Hanabusa finally conceeds…sort of

Reprinted from DailyKos

The Star Advertiser is reporting that Colleen Hanabusa will not contest the election results that showed Sen. Brian Schatz winning by just over 1,700 votes.  However, there’s no party unity.  No graciousness towards her opponent.  Just a whiny complaint.

“A big Mahalo to our volunteers and supporters for your hard work, sacrifice and most importantly, for your trust,” Hanabusa said in a statement. “We would not have gotten as close as we did without the love and Aloha you poured into our campaign. I will forever be humbled and inspired by your support.””Though I will not be challenging the results of this election, I remain very concerned about the public’s confidence and trust in our election process. I ask former colleagues and friends in the Hawaii State Legislature to explore what is necessary to ensure the people that their vote truly counts. I heard from many who feel strongly that they were disenfranchised from the voting process this election and I stand ready to support any collaborative effort to have those voices heard.”

“It is time for me to finish my work in the Congress and reflect on the last 16 years of my life in public office. I always wanted to give back and make things better for the people of Hawaii by creating opportunities for the next generation to thrive. I can move on from this election knowing I listened to the people and fought hard for the right to represent them, honorably.”

Hanabusa’s ambition led her to abandon her HI-01 House seat to primary senator Brian Schatz.  Mark Takai (D) (endorsed by the Progressive Caucus, Vote Vets and the Sierra Club) will be facing Republican Mark Djou (R) in the general for Hanabusa’s old seat.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Calls For Demilitarizing Police

tulsi2013Honolulu – Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today called for demilitarizing of American police.

“The increasing use of military equipment, weapons, and tactics against our own citizens is unacceptable and must stop.”

said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a veteran of two tours of duty in the Middle East and a captain in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard.

“The military-style response of the Ferguson, Missouri police is but the latest of numerous such incidents across America.”

Read more

MPD – A Chance for Change Being Bungled

Maui Police Department, despite many outstanding officers, has a past of bad administration that has gotten the department in hot water with the courts. It looks like the Police Commission has no taste for changing this.

When Chief Gary Yabuta retired  July 30, 2014, residents were optimistic that the Police Commission would appoint an educated chief dedicated to cleaning up the corruption in the department.  Corruption and bad judgement that includes:

Read more

Hanabusa loses injunction

Reprinted from DailyKos

According to Hawaii News Now, Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura has denied Colleen Hanabusa’s request to delay the last two Hawaii precincts from voting tomorrow (Friday Aug 15,2014):

Hanabusa trails U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz by 1,635 in the race for the remainder of the term of the late U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye. In the other two Puna precincts where voting went ahead last Saturday, Schatz garnered about 10 percent more of the vote than Hanabusa.

Hanabusa winning with the Puna vote is mathematically unlikely.  Her best showing in her home town precinct was 63% of the vote.  She’d have to get more than that if all 8,000+ voters showed up.  Given the 37% turn-out in neighboring precincts, she’d have to get about 80% of likely voters to pull ahead of Senator Brian Schatz.

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) actually working and refusing to grant interviews vs challenger Colleen Hanabusa (conserva-dem) using Puna's misfortune as a campaign photo op.

Senator Brian Schatz helping Hurricane victims vs Colleen Hanabusa using them as a photo op

Donna Mercado Kim Fakes Environmentalism

After a dismal performance in the July 23 KITV debate where CD1 hopeful, Donna Mercado Kim, told us that the solution to improving the economy is to remove regulations (a statement that made both environmentalists and labor supporters cringe) and a stunningly uninformed interview with the Hawaii Independent, Kim must have felt she needed to improve her image.

Read more