Panos Prevedouros, a professor of engineering at the University of Hawaii
Panos Prevedouros, PHD, professor of Engineering at the University of Hawaii

BY PANOS PREVEDOUROS PHD – A TV ad started last week shows U.S. Senator Brian Schatz promoting “energy that’s moving Hawaii forward. Senator Brian Schatz is leading the effort to harness our incredible wind energy potential with tax credits to grow wind energy production that would create thousands of new jobs and clean energy.”

Hawaii residents from Waianae to Kahuku, from Molokai to Lanai, and everywhere in the between dislike wind turbines. Senator Schatz promotes more taxpayer monies for special interests who are peddling a technology that cannot make it on its own. He is wrong for the following reasons.

Independently from any politics, a Punahou and UH-Manoa graduate student and I conducted detailed research on cost effective energy solutions for Hawaii, by examining all major energy sources available to Hawaii. A summary of our work was accepted by Pacific Business News last month, and was published this week: Making the Case for Liquefied Natural Gas.

Our research concluded that wind and solar power plants are ineffective; they require multimillion dollar subsidies. The solar energy in our research was the power plant type that consumes land in order to produce some daytime electricity, similar to the 36 acres wasted by the Pohoiki plant at Kalaeloa to produce only 5 MW.

On the other hand, solar photovoltaic panels have been locally accepted by thousands of homeowners and businesses. Rooftop PV is an incremental, distributed power source with near zero visual or other negative impacts for Hawaii, as I explained here: Big Rooftop Solar Panels Make Sense in Hawaii – without Any Subsidies! Rooftop PV supports dozens of local small businesses.

Recently BMW decided to locate its electric vehicle chassis assembly in a region of Washington State because the local electricity rate is 3 cents (!) per kilowatt-hour. HECO’s rate on Oahu is over 33 cents and thanks to Senator Schatz’s flawed advocacy, our electricity costs will increase, and Hawaii will become increasingly uncompetitive.

I urge Senator Schatz to review the three page summary of our research titled The Next 100 MW Power Plant for Oahu and modify his views about renewable energy. America’s future cannot be supported by intermittent, unreliable and expensive energy.

Hawaii does not need unsightly turbines and cannot afford their cost and flaky reliability. And please stop bragging about the jobs. Hawaii has fewer than 50 turbines and fewer than 50 people are located here to manage them … that is, when the turbines are not down due to fires or other self-inflicted damage.

Happy Thanksgiving and Aloha.