Tuesday, March 4, 2008



The ballots for KIUC Board of Directors (BOD) elections are in people’s mailboxes and PNN is urging coop members to “plunk” and for the only two people who can change the corporate governance, anti-renewable-energy mind-set of the Board - Ben Sullivan and Ken Stokes.

Just because one can vote for three people doesn’t mean you have to vote for three and voting for a third may deny election to one of the two you actually want.

All the other candidates propose to sit back and use the corporate model to deny us a low-cost home owned renewable alternatives.

The other four- including one self-nominated and three board-nominated candidates- have stated they will perpetuate the current outdated model of the typical commercial electric company where the mind-set is “We sell you a product- electricity” rather than using a renewable co-generation model that can and will avoid the high cost of building new fossil fuel plants or denying large-scale private renewable projects as “unreliable” or “economically risky” without doing real full-cost-benefit analyses.

We urge all voters to read the extensive written questions and answers
and the individual articles on each candidate as well as the interviews in the local paper.

The current governance, very apparently supported by the three current board members and petition-nominated one, has been stuck in the classic, monopolistic, electric-company model and has failed Kaua`i miserably despite allegedly being the users’ co-op.

It still serves a paternalistic view of our energy future. We need to stop that.

Through fear mongering the directors have convinced themselves that we need to be economically afraid of solar, wind and hydro on a large scale. And they refuse to even discuss how to allow, much less financially encourage, co-op members to use the existing generation and grid to invest in storage-battery-free individual customer-owned, cost-effective co-generation based on the “net metering”- aka running the meter backward- that exists in state PUC law.

No one can deny the corporate influence is ubiquitous on the current Board. They can’t seem to think about another model because of their ties. When they think about renewables they think of some massive scale project like acres of windmills, re-running rivers, or burning forests.

But, as has been proven by the highly successful, though highly corrupt, solar hot water program which encourages patrons to reduce their bills works. It has according to many estimates, take 10-20% of the load off the supply side of the supply with current technology and increasingly more as the technology improves.

Actually the solar water heater program doesn’t even do anything but subsidize “approved”, hand-selected higher-cost installers. Those companies who charge about what the subsidy is rather than twice that can’t participate.

But despite the cost the success begs the question as to why there is no similar 0% loans for photo-voltaic roofs if not windmills. The reason we don’ have the program appears to be because the solar industry fears it will lose their 100% high-cost market share if solar companies get a big pot of money. That will draw low cost competitors into the market..

It is the solar companies that stand in the way of providing each and every home-owner immediate savings with a “save as you pay” solar-panel loan program.

With ubiquitous tax breaks that go on and off at the federal, state and local levels and with a program for a windmill- even a short one- in every yard we could cut usage by as much as 50%, get a bonus to pay off the loan faster and make the construction of more fossil fuel power plants an amusing anachronism.

But if you think of your KIUC BOD job as running a corporation that sells electricity to customers rather than a coop where the idea is to decrease the amount that needs to be provided- one that, like any business must sell more and more to sustain the financial liquidity needed to provide more and more (and pay off the overpriced loan used to buy this company)- you will continue to charge 40 cents a kilowatt today and 50, 60 or 70 tomorrow as imported fuel bills rise while doing nothing for the co-op member to decrease their bills.

The “dependability” argument is absurd- how dependable is it to plan for burning more fossil fuel in a “peak oil” world?
Please vote for the only two candidates- Sullivan and Stokes- who apparently “get” the need to immediately move to renewables and, we hope, home co-generation facilities rather than selling us the type of power we don’t want and is, according to scientists and smart economists, unsustainable in the 21st century.


Anonymous said...

I voted this way before reading this.

But you have some serious errors of fact and logic here Andy.

Home windmills are a turd compared to commercial scale units.

The 2 KW units being flogged cost about $20K installed. With a 35-50 ft pole, they are just too close to the ground to do that much, but even at full rating they cost $10K/kw. I figure even at my windy site, we'd only cover about $150/month worth of power. Pretty lousy.

a real turbine produces 2-4 MW or 1000X as much power at full rating. Just so you know, if you google around, you can find refurbished units at below $200K. Now the pole and foundations plus intertie lines to the grid won't be free, but you've got $19.8 million bucks per "real" turbine in hand compared to 1000 of the home units. The produce power at 6-8 cts/KwHr on the mainland vs our 25cts here for diesel/naphtha burning.

Moreover, since a real turbine is up 300 ft, you get higher and steadier wind so your amount of production as a % of rated power is much much higher. Wind speed steadily increases with elevation and you get out of the tree/building turbulence that robs power.

Also, since you probably can't go beyond 20% wind due to its variability you don't need more than 10-20 of them TOTAL. Not acres and acres. Those peashit units from the 70's are no longer what people use. If they install a real storage system like a pumped hydro storage system, you could install more.

We cannot have half the island on net metering anyway. Just consider that in daytime the KIUC production would be basically off or worse there'd be a surplus of electricity with no way to store it. Then from 4-11 PM, when something like 35-40% of our useage occurs KIUC would have to provide 100%.

Then do the billing math. Half would pay nothing. The other half would have to carry the entire fixed burden of the existing system. Their bills basically double. Net metering is good to stimulate things, but everybody can't be on welfare.

Agree 100% that the current directors are basically controlled by big land and big business. Try asking who sat on the original long term capital study committee (a Dick Cheney energy committee special if I ever saw one). The big developers/land holders made damn sure there would be no wind mills in the view planes near Poipu's $1 million half acres.

Andy Parx said...

$150 a month is nothing to sneeze at on the individual level and 150 plus 150 plus 150...

But the point is that none of these generation devices are either or, as the corporate model says. Co-generation is not welfare. It encourages more co-generation and decreases the need to expensive expansion of corporate model generation so bills would remain stable as long as co-generation remains stable or increases.

Yes- solving a lot of the problems is a big task- but doing nothing will double our bills in no time flat as has happened over the last couple of years and until the model is reversed it will keep happening as oil climbs exponentially in price

And storage is not an insurmountable problem.

Anonymous said...

"...deny us a low-cost home owned renewable alternatives."
Give me a break Parx. I have installed cogen and large photo-voltaic systems; they are expensive and clearly out of reach for the average homeowner. For instance an $83,000 photo-voltaic system cannot offset all of the energy used by a family of four in an average home. The payback is 10-15 years---hardly a wise use of scarce funds. Moreover, the leading photovoltaic panels (Samsung) are only 17% efficient, at best.
You, Stokes, Sullivan and the other pie in the sky dreamers are economically illiterate and grossly ignorant about energy production. If all the alternatives you champion were cost efficient and economical there would be no need for all the hoorah---people would demand the systems and producers would jump to meet the demand.

Anonymous said...


must have been a hell of a profit margin. Borders on theft.

A package system to make 750 KW/month is about $25K (I got a quote). Batteries would add another $15K. Installation at ground level. $5K?? Oh, I forgot. Need $25K for a down payment on a Hummer.

You're still investing $45K to make $300/month or $3600/year or 8% on investment. Pretty crappy return since if you borrowed the money at 6% to buy it in the first place you've only got 2% to try to pay back the capital (never get there).

As for $150 here or there. That's all well and good. But why in the hell would you spend 10 times as much per unit of generation for home units when commercial scale units are available, work better and would have pros running them? Ground level windmills are a joke unless you live on a ridge in Kalaheo.

I want 6-8 cts/kwhr power not 40 cts/kwhr power.



small pdf.

check the power graph. Below 15 MPH you get squat power. The feds did a study with an anemometer in Anahola back in 1993/4 (IIRC). Average speed at 60 ft elevation was 12-13 MPH. Will be less the lower you go. (usually a 1/7th power function is used). And power is a cube function of windspeed.

Net metering of wind or solar is not co-generation. Cogeneration is usually when people make electricity and also heat for say water heating for a big laundry or to heat large complexes in cold climates. Co-generation involves classic thermal power generation, not wind/solar. May work for our resorts but not so much at home. We're not going to be installing home diesel generators. not to mention oil for a home system is just as risky as for an industrial system.

And the installer might want to catch up with the times. Sunpower is up in the low 20's on efficiency.