Weekend Observations

This past weekend will be one remembered by O`ahuans for a long time. It was the second island-wide blackout in as many years. It was about 6:30pm on a Friday evening. We had just finished dinner and I was settling down to my cup of coffee when the lightning flashed, the thunder crackled and the lights went out. I walked outside and noticed the darkness extend beyond Pearl City. It was an eerie feeling. We all know what followed, 12 to 24 hours without electricity. We still do not know exactly what caused it and HECO is not saying. In the ensuring days people got together and freely expressed their feelings. These are not in any particular order. They are highlights of conversations that I was a part of with others and thought I would share them with you. I may not agree with all of them but they were certainly thought provoking.
  • Island-wide Blackout: If all it takes is a lightning strike to take out the electricity for the entire island of O`ahu, can you imagine what a Hurricane Iniki would do to O`ahu. It would be devastating. How can an earthquake in 2006 on Hawaii island and now a lightning storm shut down the entire island? This only shows how fragile our infrastructure is.
  • Hawaiian Electric Industries: Confidence in HEI is at a low point with these island-wide blackouts. It brings to question their ability to manage a regional power company. Their track record in other markets like the Philippines and China have been less than stellar. Didn't they get out of those markets to focus on this market?
  • Alternative Energy: Now is the time for Hawaii to put everything it's got into establishing alternative energy as a cornerstone industry in Hawaii. We have solar, wind, geothermal, ocean and biofuel projects taking shape. Will it happen? Consensus was NO, because we are too near sighted and motivated my self interests. Hawaii does not have the will power and single minded focus. We do not have that key person with the vision and ability to execute.
  • State Legislature: There are too many agendas and near sightedness to get anything done. Generalization: the Legislature is social liberal and fiscally conservative.  Even though alternative energy makes sense, they won't fund it.
  • Act 221: The strong survive and the weak die. Act 221 skews that dynamic and artificially props up companies that should otherwise die. With that said, Act 221 should be supported in this economic downturn to help the fledgling tech industry. It might be another question when times are good.
  • Better Place: This company may be the best thing to happen to Hawaii. It would put Hawaii at the forefront of alternative energy transportation. The problem is company representatives are spending too much time with Gov. Lingle and not enough time lobbying the Legislature who appropriate the money. If that doesn't change it will just be another PR campaign.
That's it for the street rumblings. If I hear more of these I will keep you posted. Whether you agree or disagree, it is always interesting to hear what people are saying. At least I find it interesting.