Letters for Thursday — March 30, 2006

• Questions KIUC choices

• Validity of predictions

• Nawiliwili needs satellite KPD station

• Cycle of depression

Questions KIUC choices

KIUC’s recent selection of renewable energy sources raises some questions regarding priorities and responsibilities. The selection of two biomass plants, one municipal solid waste-burning facility and one wind farm was reported by The Garden Island news.

The KIUC objectives are stated to be a reduction of fossil fuel imports (currently giving Kaua’i residents the highest-priced electricity in the nation), as well as a reduction of pollution associated with electrical power generation. However, to choose burning biomass and garbage seems more like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Is it KIUC’s plan to import garbage from the mainland to burn on the Garden Island? Will the “Garden Island” become the “Garbage Island” under KIUC stewardship?

Burning garbage is loaded with many problems — namely the many toxins present in solid waste released into the air when burned. In a place so rich in solar, wind and water resources it’s odd that KIUC would choose burning waste as a desirable option, and would even agree to “import” garbage waste as fuel to burn. Further, biomass is also problematic. Collecting the biomass (energy intensive), and burning biomass (as our distant ancestors did) seems to discount the many options available in the 21st century. Moreover, it’s not clear to me how “garbage” qualifies as “renewable.” This seems a stretch at best.

Even the selection of large wind turbines seems an uphill battle in terms of avian impact, visual impacts, grid interconnection issues and land impacts from additional access roads/cranes etc., depending on the site — as of present still undisclosed.

According to KIUC’s published report from Black & Veatch, a world class engineering firm, analyzing renewable energy technologies puts municipal solid waste burning in the middle to high range of costs, as with biomass (see KIUC.coop).

According to KIUC, these four projects are not scheduled to come online until 2008-2010. Can the residents and commercial power consumers on Kaua’i wait that long?

In the interests of full disclosure, our firm responded to the KIUC request for proposals, and we were not selected. Our project involved distributed small wind systems that use a silent, visually interesting and artistic technology that uses new Vertical Axis Wind Turbines. We were disappointed that KIUC would not even consider a small demonstration project (funded by our firm) to show the residents of Kaua’i the benefits of this clean energy technology.

We’re not crying over sour milk, we sincerely wish to demonstrate our technology and the benefits it could offer the residents of Kaua’i. The KIUC website uses the phrase “KIUC works for an energy wise tomorrow.” Is burning toxic municipal solid wastes KIUC’s idea of wisdom? If KIUC is sincerely interested in emerging clean technologies, perhaps a program for small demonstrations could aid in this objective.

If KIUC really believes that it’s in the best interests of Kaua’i to burn garbage (initially imported from the mainland) and biomass (solar energy many times removed), then this raises questions about the real priorities of KIUC. Currently, the residential price per Kwh on Kaua’i is over 29 cents and rising (more than twice the national average). Regardless of how much “garbage” or “biomass” KIUC wishes to import, there is no doubt that electricity rates in Kaua’i will continue to rise.

  • Toby Kinkaid
    Claremont, CA

Validity of predictions

Echoing the fortune-telling, or rather misfortune-telling statements of the White House, the author of “What happens when the coalition leaves Iraq” (TGI 3/26/2006) predicts that if our coalition forces withdraw from Iraq now, Iraq will plunge into a civil war. Well, we don’t have a crystal ball, so we don’t know what would happen, but we certainly can use some logic to decide whom should we believe.

President Bush predicted to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; he was wrong. He predicted the cost of the war to be between $30 and 200 billion; he was dead wrong. Three years ago he announced victory and the end of major battles; he was wrong again. He predicted a smooth transition in Iraq after the general elections; again, he was wrong. He predicted that the Iraqis would welcome American democracy with open arms; 82-percent of them want us to leave immediately. That’s a pretty convincing track record for me not to believe the rest of his predictions.

And the trend is on: A few days ago George Bush claimed that there was no civil war in Iraq; the prime minister of Iraq said that civil war is already raging there. I agree that the distance between Washington and Iraq is quite a few thousand miles, and at such a long distance a few things here and there may obstruct the view of the President, but the reality is apparently not on his side. I think that he badly needs stronger glasses, and a set of hearing aids, too. Or you are saying that he gets his information from our intelligence services? That’s bad news too! Remember how accurately they predicted those WMD’s?

How long should we bet on the wrong horse? Till we go bankrupt? We are almost there.

  • János Samu

Nawiliwili needs satellite KPD station

As owners at the Banyon Harbor in Nawiliwili, we have recently received requests to try to prevent a new liquor license in an effort to control additional late night noise from the already boisterous area that includes the nearby county park and seawall.

The actions of other people can not be “controlled,” but they can be deterred.

Because this has become such a hotspot, the obvious thing to do is have the Kauai Police Department set up a satellite station in the area.

This would not only eliminate response time, it would discourage ill behavior in general.

  • Louise and Errol Pak Lihu’e

Cycle of depression

The mayor plans on raising property values which, of course, will raise property taxes. This means, of course, rents will go up. Landlords must pass additional expenses on to tenants.

Many families on Kaua’i cannot afford their rent, or land owners their property taxes, now. Sell? Sell? Sell? But who will buy? If one cannot pay the taxes, the property reverts to the County.

Many homeowners are stuck with mortgages they cannot afford to pay. If owners can’t pay the bank, the bank owns the property with many foreclosures resulting. Property values go down. Once again the system has worked its way into a depression. The very affluent love a depression (they can buy things — land, properties — cheap) until it hits them, which it always does. When the middle …what’s left of it … and working classes can no longer buy cars, appliances, homes, or shop at Walmart / Kmart / Macy’s / Sears the bubble bursts. It happens every few years and … oh me, oh my… it’s always fun.

I ain’t laughin’….

  • Bettejo Dux

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