HECO’s Use of Palm Oil to Further Sustainability is Innovative

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BY TOM TANTON – I want to commend Keith Rollman for his recent article, “Sustainability vs Environmentalism: Why It’s Sadly, Not The Same Thing” (February 21).  Hawaiian Electric Company’s (HECO) recent decision to use palm oil in developing its flagship sustainable energy program is a boon for all three pillars of Hawaii’s State 2050 Sustainability Task Force: Planet, People and Profit.

HECO is a true innovator, employing palm oil, a sustainable source for biofuel, in turbines more than 40 years old.  Palm oil is the world’s cheapest readily available and most efficient renewable energy source, able to produce more biofuel per hectare than any of its competitors, including rapeseed, ethanol or jatropha.

Mr. Rollman rightly notes that the palm oil used by HECO is a sustainable source for Hawaii’s renewable energy objectives despite efforts by opponents to shame its use in Hawaii.  HECO’s use of palm oil will also help reduce poverty in the developing world.  Palm oil is produced in countries where most people live on less than a few dollars a day, such Malaysia and Indonesia, employing nearly 4 million in these countries and ensuring food security for billions more throughout the world.


While environmentalists continue the egregious attacks against HECO and palm oil, residents of Hawaii will only benefit from the production of sustainable energy sources like palm oil.  Hawaiians should remind themselves not to neglect the “People” element in its Sustainability Task Force adage.  Palm oil is a key ingredient to achieving that balance.

Tom Tanton is the President of T2 & Associates, an energy technology and economic development firm, based in Lincoln, California.