Friday, September 24, 2010

CHECKING FOR LEAKS

CHECKING FOR LEAKS: You know it’s a slow news day when Starvertiser political reporter Derrick DePledge’s blog has nothing better to talk about than the latest phony web site scam site from GOP wacko Eric Ryan.

But, although you have to look for it, the first article from new local newspaper reporter Vanessa Van Voorhis (wasn’t that a character in Archie comics?) has a few revelations.

The first is that she has obviously got the message as to why the last business “reporter” (note the position has been downgraded from “editor”) Coco Zickos was fired so, as her first entry she scrambled her butt down to the Lihu`e Business Association’s monthly meeting, the type of thing Zickos admitted she neglected to do enough of during her stint, saying it was reason #1 for her exit.

But then there’s the end of the article in which Van Voorhis is listed as business AND environmental editor, the latter of which, according to Zickos, was added to her job description at her request- a position which she was told she spent too much time on at the expense of the former.

But the big news, if true, is buried in the 10th paragraph and 325 words into the piece covering a talk by Department of Water (DOW) Manager and Chief Engineer David Craddick.

After talking about projects and pipes and other mundane stuff we hear a statistic that can’t possibly be right- but then again might be.

Quoting Craddick, Van Voorhis writes:

DOW is Kaua`i Island Utility Cooperative’s No. 1 customer, using approximately 40 percent of all KIUC’s generation.

Forty percent?.. of all the electricity used on the island? That raises way too many mind-boggling questions.

Something has got to be haywire, especially since for years we’ve been told by the water department that gravity-fed, natural springs are the primary source of our water and that, other than the new surface water in Lihu`e, it’s the way the rest of the island gets its water.

But it appears it might be so because she also writes

When asked about the option of solar-driven energy for pumps, Craddick said it would “require acres and acres of solar panels to power just one pump,” and is therefore not a feasible option.

Now we don’t have an engineering degree but what kind of pump needs “acres and acres of solar panels”- or 3/5th of the islands electricity output- to run?

Then, as if it were almost a joke, the penultimate paragraph in the article reads:

(Craddick) added that customers should anticipate about a 25-percent increase in water bills over the next three years. “We’re doing a rate study right now,” he said, “and we should have the results November or December. Then we’ll know what we need to do.”

Psst... we’ve got a suggestion- start with finding some more efficient pumps. Or at least tell us whose brother-in-law is supplying them.

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Update: According to two people the article by Vanessa Van Voorhis in yesterday’s local newspaper quoting Department of Water Chief Engineer David Craddick as saying that “40 percent of all KIUC’s generation” is factually incorrect, as we suspected.

Dr. Carl Berg who attended the meeting wrote to say that actually:

My notes from that meeting say (the) County is biggest single consumer of electricity, using 10% of what is produced and 40% of County's use is by Water Dept. That is a lot different.(Craddick) did say it would take a lot of solar panels to drive a pump and that solar is no good at night. He did mention net-metering. Also talked about hydroelectric from surface water source. But he concluded that DOW is really dependent on KIUC.

And Ken Taylor confirmed that statistic and added other information writing that:

The county overall, is KIUC biggest or #1 customer at about 10% of the total production. Of that, DOW uses about 40-50%, sewers use about 20%. I talked to Walt Barnes who is an electrical engineer about how much solar would be needed to run a 75 hp pump motor. His calculations showed only about 1 acre of solar would be needed. This happened after David had made this same comment at another meeting last fall. I questioned David's numbers because I have read where water districts in Cal. have been installing more and more solar. I think the problem come in getting the pump started, which can be done by using KIUC to start them, then automatically change over. I'm checking with some others on this. I asked the question that started this conversation at yesterdays meeting.

3 comments:

Eleanor said...

You count the words? This all left me bewildered. DOW uses that much? Something strange here.

Brad Parsons said...

Carl is right, "and 40% of County's use is by Water Dept."

Ken is also on the right line of inquiry.

Mr. Craddick is prematurely dismissing alternative sources of power for the water pumps.

Keep in mind PMRF has indicated they intend to get off KIUC's grid and go renewable. If DOW were to responsibly do that also, it could create some adjustments for KIUC that they appear to want to avoid. Imagine that DOW or just Craddick has been lobbied hard on this.

BTW, the new cub reporter seems to be a step or two behind Coco.

Kaua'iWater said...

Kaua'i Water Department yearly power bill is about $3 million. If you were at the LBA meeting the comment about % of power use came from the audience. The person said Kaua'i Water Deparment uses 40% of the Counties use which is reasonable. Mr. Craddick did not disagree.

With the water Department not being a major land owner Mr. Craddick said he did not see getting acres of land to put solar panels on unless there are changes to the National Energy Policy Act which Hawaii was so neatly exempted from presumably some heavy lobbying from Hawaiian Electric to our Senatorial represenatives. The key missing piece being the requirement to provide "wheeling" rates for anyone producing power so they can put it in the power transmission lines and use it where they can find the best price. Along with the wheeling requirement it protected the power utilities from getting stuck with high debt payments on power production facilities until they were depreciated to lower levels. Mr. Craddick also said they were looking at the roofs of peoples houses near the pump stations to generate solar power.

So while it may be fun to poke fun at the news papers Bloggers need to check stories as much as the newspaper does before making the confusion worse.