Increasingly we are seeing societies feeling the effects of our One Planet World future but we are failing to grasp the nettle of the adventureous challenge a systems and integrated approach, based on the continual reduction in ‘Resource Intensity’ will deliver.
Clean power future needs people power
By Jeffrey Mikulina
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jan 03, 2010
“If the development of our indigenous energy resources proceeds expeditiously, the potential exists for Hawaii to become self-sufficient in terms of our electrical energy and highway transportation fuel needs in the next 20 to 30 years…”
Those words accompanied a 1977 plan for Hawaii’s energy independence by the year 2010. The plan—developed by more than 100 Hawaii experts for the state Senate—reminds us that the goal of weaning Hawaii from imported oil has been as enduring as it has been elusive.
Hawaii has sought ways to tap into indigenous sources of power for more than a century. Biomass from sugarcane provided a good chunk of Hawaii’s electricity throughout the 20th century, although the dependence on oil grew.
The 1973 oil embargo shifted the renewable energy effort into high gear. The preface of a 1974 State of Hawaii Energy Policies Plan stated, “Instead of disappearing, certain kinds of bad dreams have the tendency of recurring.”
The 1977 Senate report quoted above lamented the “$500 million worth of imported oil that has no positive impact upon our economy.”
We heard the alarm, but then, as humans are apt to do, we hit “snooze.” The collective conscious shifted as the price of oil fell and other crises commanded attention. Today, the percentage of electricity generated by clean energy statewide is nearly half what it was during the first Earth Day in 1970. Oil importation over the same period has grown by about 50 percent. The $500 million oil price tag in 1977 has since increased tenfold.
We know that Hawaii’s dependence on imported crude is going to come to an end. The question is whether it will be on our terms or on someone else’s terms—and how much damage must our climate and oceans suffer in the meantime………………….
……………Hawaii’s future power system will likely be anchored by larger clean energy sources—wind, concentrating solar, ocean energy—but much of the power will come from neighborhood or rooftop sources such as solar photovoltaic. This democratized, distributed model of community-scaled power generation and storage would also fulfill Thomas Edison’s 1880s vision of a power plant in every community. The difference, of course, is that our power plants would be clean, quiet and sustainable.
The other way people can form the basis for our energy transformation will be in the small daily decisions and behaviors we all make. No amount of new technologies or policies will overcome a culture of waste at the individual level. The decision to invest in solar energy, to ride a bike, to buy locally is personal. But the effects are collective.
Blue Planet is growing a grassroots movement of 10,000 fellow islanders committed to Hawaii’s clean energy transition. We’ve assembled a portfolio of aggressive clean energy policies that we will be advocating at the state Capitol. We’re developing powerful tools to make it much easier for Hawaii residents to make smart energy choices.
Now is Hawaii’s moment to achieve something bold for the globe, sending ripples of our success across the Pacific. But Hawaii’s energy revolution will not be fueled by a government plan or a single company’s vision. Any lasting social change must be driven by people—people with shared values for a common future. That’s the renewable force Hawaii needs to shake free from fossil fuel.