Thursday, May 20, 2021

Hawaii Decides to Cripple Its Power Grid

Just not in those exact words.  

In 2015, Hawaii made history, becoming the first US state to mandate a full transition to renewable energy. The legislation, signed into law by Gov. David Ige, mandated that state utilities generate 100 percent of electricity sales from renewable fuels by 2045.

As a wise observer said, "Promises are easy to make.  Achieving them is another story."  But that's not exactly what this story, H/T to the Foundation for Economic Education, is about.  

Earlier this month, word broke that the state’s largest supplier of electricity, Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) was considering backing out of an enormous part of the switch to renewables, a vast storage facility (basically a huge, 185 megawatt, battery farm) called Kapolei Energy Storage.  It's being built to ensure a stable supply of electricity to the island of Oahu, which is preparing for the retirement of the AES coal plant—Hawaii’s last coal-fired power plant—and which produces 15-20 percent of the island’s electricity. The use of coal has been banned in Hawaii. 

With the renewables part of the project turning up late (it's a government project after all), it looks like Oahu could be facing a bad energy squeeze, because there's nothing to charge the battery farm once the AES coal plant is shut down.

The reality is there’s not enough wind, solar, or battery storage to replace the AES plant. Hawaiian Electric has made this quite clear in recent documents, noting that it would not be able to meet its year-two renewable target (75 percent) for “more than a decade.”

This means that to replace its soon-to-be retired coal plant, Hawaii Electric will soon be charging its giant battery … with oil. In other words, Hawaiians will be trading one fossil fuel (coal) for another, albeit one far more expensive.

According to the Utility Dive website, the Hawaii Public Utility Commission has started trying to convince Hawaiian Electric not to tear down the AES coal plant to replace it with an oil-fired plant.  James Griffin, chair of the Hawaii PUC, told utility representatives, "Your plan to me amounts to a shift from one fossil fuel to another. We're going from cigarettes to crack."  As an aside, you know what Bidenomics has done to the price of oil here on the mainland; now imagine transporting it by tanker to Hawaii.  Griffin said, “Oil prices don’t have to be much higher for this to look like the highest increase people will have experienced, and it’s not acceptable. We have to do better.”

It's almost a cliche' that government mandates always come with unintended consequences, and generally produce outcomes opposite of what their intent was.  It's like the only people who don't know that are the legislators and regulators.  The free market is always better.  The legislation mandating the state go to 100% renewables by 2045 had very specific milestones: 30% renewable electricity by 2020, 40% by 2030, 70% by 2040 before being 100% renewable by 2045.  HECO is considering those intermediate steps in light of minimizing financial damages from the changes.  They have to take out the coal-fired power plant because coal has been banned.  Building an oil-fired plant in its place is an unintended consequence. 

FEE Author John Miltimore presented this graphic of the shares of energy production in the US since 1950.  You can see that petroleum (the top band) peaked around the early 1980s and while never a huge supplier, is now clearly negligible.  Coal's share has been in decline since about 2008, and it looks like the biggest increase in generation belongs to natural gas. 



  1. So? F Hawaii and all those socialist buttholes.

    Sounds harsh? Well, these jerks and the jerks in California are the ones leading everyone else off the edge of sanity into outright stupidity.

    One thing in Hawaii's favor? You can actually survive outside without utilities. Though it's going to become more Third World than it already is.

    1. Worse = better.

      Imagine the shock if the state, after being forced to cook on open pit fires and enjoy the full tropical swelter there minus A/C for a couple of years, after tourists tire of Shitholian infrastructure, puts down the pakalolo long enough to realize they've been had, and it stops being a reliable Leftard haven.

      Maybe even go them one better: make them a territory again, and let them outdo Puerto Rico, in exchange for 4 fewer Democrats in Congress. The loss of Dizzy Morono alone will up the average IQ in the US Senate by 5 points.

      "Let them eat lava."

    2. Beans - so what? Ridicule.

      There remains a possibility, no matter how small, that being constantly ridiculed may make some Hawaiians realize how stupid they're being, and stop.

      I'm proud do my part, my infinitesimally small part, of ridiculing all the environmental insanity wherever I find it.

    3. Sorry, but the average Hawaiian, native or non-native, roughly matches the IQ of the local indigenous geese, which is to say, far stupider than factory-farm raised turkeys. Yeah, that stupid. Yet they vote, continuously, as they're told to.

      In other words, too stupid to understand ridicule. It's been like this since, well, the good "Magnum PI" went off the air.

    4. Wonder if that applies to the military bases there on the islands? I am sure it does not.

  2. The solution is simple, yet obvious. Run the Power Plants on molten Lava - there seems to be an unending supply of it on at least one of the islands. Nikki Hoi!

    1. Hawaii has a 38 Mw geothermal power plant that shut down a few years ago due to a nearby volcanic eruption (TOO MUCH lava!) but which supposedly is back on line.

      Wind power might be cheaper than geothermal, I'm no expert.

  3. Those who can, do. Those who can't go into management/politics....and issue impossible mandates that OTHER PEOPLE have to achieve.....often under threat of state sanctioned force.

  4. "Renewable fuels."
    Dems are able to swallow lies (and in Harris' case, other stuff) whole.
    Why can't they buy into abiotic petroleum production?
    Renewable fuel.
    And of course, firewood.

    1. Firewood is renewable fuel. The biggest advances to human life in history came when we went from renewable fuel to petroleum. The biggest advances since then have all come from higher energy density: nuclear.

  5. "government mandates always come with unintended consequences, and generally produce outcomes opposite of what their intent was."

    The intent of government mandates is to increase the wealth, power, and likelihood of reelection of the politician who wrote the mandate. Once you view mandates through that lens, they all make sense.

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  7. Objectively, Hawaii would be an ideal location for small modular reactors similar to NuScale units. Unfortunately, Hawaii is a Democrat Socialist (redundant ,I Know) political cesspool, and nuclear power is considered evil, despite the fact Pearl Harbor is the home port for a number of nuclear powered ships. Well, at least they won't freeze to death in the dark.

    As an aside, if this insanity goes forward and the predictable rolling blackout and high prices for what electricity is available, don't be surprised if Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard ties up a soon to be decommissioned nuclear sub and uses it to provide reliable power to the military facilities.

    1. Back in 2010 I was suggesting that we commoditize the standard nuclear reactors used on aircraft carriers, the most modern design (then?) being the A4. The Navy has bought reactors as catalog items for decades and have never had a reactor failure. They're run only by well trained 20-somethings, with the only advantage they have being access to essentially unlimited cooling water.

      Those are 100 megawatt reactors, which will power a few thousand homes. Distributed power instead of concentrated.

    2. If you would concurrently mandate the US Navy to run and maintain every one of those plants forever, and bar in perpetuity and in total any privatization ever, I will sign your petition and subscribe to your newsletter.

      Private industry gets you, and would get you, Three Mile Islands, Fukushimas, and nuclear plants on volcanic islands.

      No sale on the latter.
      The nuclear industry has to own its failures, and the consequences of them. Including earning a well-deserved trust level approaching that of used car dealers.

      You can't use the apples of how the Navy administers nuclear power, to sell the oranges of how ConED et al run their railroad. It's simultaneously fallacious, and dishonest.

      Nuclear power is always cleaner and safer.
      Until it's not.

      And those rosy promises of "once in 10,000 years" turn out to be sales brochure claims from the marketing division, not real-world experience from the engineering department.

    3. The idea of using something like Navy's A4 reactors has probably passed its "best used by" date, but the concept was to recruit those ex-Navy guys who know how to run them. There are better reactor designs out there that are more idiot proof and don't require as much attention as the 70s-era designs. The only reason we don't have them is the greenies and the general public are so scared of this N word that they won't allow reactors. They tie any proposed power plants up in litigation knots so badly nobody will make one.

      Not to mention that neither three mile island nor Fukushima was as bad as most people think. If there was anything "wrong" with Fukushima it's that it was designed to a lower seismic force level than it was hit by.

    4. Noted, but then again I'm not far from PG&E's experiment in nuclear power at San Onofre.

      The one where the whole system is "riddled with cracks", and will never operate again, and happily was permanently shut down before it could go all Three Mile Island on half a million locals.

      I'm not anti-nuclear power.

      I'm anti-private-industry-run nuclear power.

      If the Navy ran the nation's nuclear program from coast to coast, we could get oil so superfluous gasoline would be 40¢/gal again.

      Utility companies remind me of nothing so much as Hollywood producers.

      Two Hollywood movie producers see a beautiful woman walking past.
      One says, "Boy, I'd sure love to screw her!"
      The second one asks, "Out of what?"

    5. You want the government to run power production? Man, that's a great idea. I'm sure there would never be a shortage again!

  8. I anxiously await the inevitable run on gasoline-powered generators as the islanders put in place their own plans to keep at least some power in their homes. After all, it's what Californians did when PG&E started to shut down large portions of the grid because of high winds and poorly maintained infrastructure, and look how well it's working out for them.

    1. Did that become law last year?

      It seems to be regulation for backup generators that are bigger than 50 HP. That's about 37 kW, enough to run a few houses. Does that mean that small backup generators for your house, like a 10 or 20kW generator, is always legal?

    2. Well, to be fair, a lot of those 'more than one house' generators are actually involved in indoor-grow facilities out in the boonies and are also found with large... CO2 tank usage, for to make the pretty smelly plants grow much bigger faster better stinkyer and potenter...

  9. Like powering your house on >$5/gal gasoline is going to last beyond a week, nor would the generators themselves withstand extended run times for much longer.

    The buy once/cry once solution there is solar out the yazoo, with an appropriate battery bank, and never buying private power again.

    Between trade winds and sunshine, anyone who can't make alternative power work on an individual basis in Hawaii is a moron, or a condomidiot inmate. 8ft² of roof generates 300W. The average econo-bungalow there is 1000 ft². That's 37.5kW at peak, or 15-30 times average daily power usage. Which leaves a healthy margin for off-peak, clouds, and inefficiency. There shouldn't be anything but skyscrapers there now running on grid power, if even that.

    The main problem with Hawaii's plan is timing and mandates, not the idea.
    FFS, they've got built-in maximal advantage to geo-thermal, wind, and solar sources.

    The best thing that could happen to them is brownouts. It'll be the cattle prod in the @$$ to switch over, and stop relying on the grid for home use.

    If I could panel my own roof area as I'd like, I'd be running a power surplus here, 14° north of Hawaii, 365 days a year, running the heat and a/c year-around for free, with enough energy left over to smelt aluminum for nothing 300 days/yr, or selling the excess back to the grid, and shifting the pollution and energy importation costs to China instead of SoCal, (TANSTAAFL), and laughing at energy prices and grid problems forever, plus having power during anything less than SMOD or nuclear war. Win-win.

  10. Hawaii already gets most of its electrical power from oil: