Letters for Saturday, June 4, 2011

• Beginning of a small journey •

Hurricane relief fund …not so!

Beginning of a small journey

Dear Chair Tacbian and members of the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative Board of Directors:

I write to you today in support of what I am interpreting as the beginning of a process that will potentially reduce our dependency on fossil fuel based power generation.

While there are a number of issues before the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) Board of Directors (Board), some of these issues need to be addressed with a sense of urgency. I believe that the initiative between Free Flow Power, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and KIUC to develop hydropower is an attempt to address a number of those key issues that impact all of our members. How can we reduce our dependency on foreign oil? How can we become more sustainable in the way that we generate electricity? How can we provide our members with a rate that is not subject to the volatile global petroleum market and other events that are beyond our control that affect the price of oil? And most importantly, how can we pass on something better to the next generation? The process of developing a renewable energy resource such as hydropower will work toward answering many of these questions.

As a former Board member and Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee for KIUC, I know that a portfolio was developed that identified diverse renewable energy technologies that would help us to achieve the goal of energy sustainability and independence. Small hydropower production was one of the renewable technologies discussed in the renewable energy portfolio. The Committee determined that no silver bullet or any singular technology existed to meet all of our energy needs. It was understood that using various forms of renewable energy resources such as hydro, solar, biomass, and smart grid technology, in conjunction with energy conservation at home and at work by every member of KIUC, would be required to achieve our energy goals.

This is not to say that I did not have concerns over the development of hydroelectric power on the island of Kaua‘i. My concerns included water rights and the possibility of FERC having jurisdiction over our water rights; construction of these projects without the benefit of the competitive bidding process; and large-scale hydro that would require the damming of our waterways. However, in further discussions and information gathering on these matters, I feel that these concerns have been addressed. I have been informed that the Hawai‘i State Commission on Water Resource Management is the governing body that deals with water related issues in Hawai‘i and that FERC has no jurisdiction over Hawai‘i’s water rights. My concern with not engaging other hydropower developers was addressed by the fact that Free Flow Power is only hired to assist KIUC with the FERC process and if it ultimately comes to fruition that hydropower is a viable option, a process that engages all hydropower developers in competitive bidding would be utilized. Finally, my fears of large scale hydropower projects that would require damming our rivers have been allayed by the fact that KIUC is only considering small scale hydropower projects and that the process being used for consideration of hydropower is transparent in a way that it will require all stakeholders to sit at the table to have an open and clear discussion over potential concerns that may arise.

While I understand the concern that has arisen from KIUC members with this process, as I too have had many of the same concerns, I am glad that KIUC is working toward addressing the key issues as identified in our strategic plan, which states in pertinent part: “One of the more important components of the strategy is to continue striving to ensure the satisfaction of the membership with responsive and value-driven services. Communication between KIUC and members is a critical element in maintaining a positive relationship through clear and consistent two-way understanding.” (KIUC 2010 Strategic Plan)

In conclusion, my understanding of this process is that it is the beginning of a journey that will require all stakeholders to come together to determine if small-scaled hydropower is viable for our island. In order for it to be viable it must be able to provide a benefit for our environment, for our members in regard to reliability and fair rates, and it must be able to provide and contribute towards our goal of creating a better future for our keiki. As Board members, you are required to perform your due diligence. I would recommend that KIUC members support and allow this initiative to move forward with the expectation that all Board and KIUC actions will continue to be in the best interest of the membership.

Derek S.K. Kawakami, State Representative 14th District

Hurricane relief fund …not so!

So I’m fairly certain that I must have been absent a substantial amount of time from my schooling. Since a toddler in south Florida, to my leaving the University of Michigan I was sure I understood English.

It turns out that I failed to attend the schools Gov. Abercrombie was fortunate enough to be enrolled in. See, I thought “Hurricane relief fund” meant hurricane relief fund. Not so! That means… tap whatever resources necessary to screw all your constituents and find money for a ludicrous budget.

I will give him this, he is a career politician, but he duped the majority of Hawai‘i, and is now our governor. Watch what happens if a hurricane the size of Iniki hits O‘ahu.

I’m not a Democrat or a Republican, what I am is educated, and no one in their right mind would have cast a vote for that man if they had bothered to research his track record. Problem is nobody does their homework. So when your house is in ruins, and nobody is there for you, when our governor is pleading to the feds for help, know you bunch of idiots gave him the reins.

Joseph Lavery, Kapa‘a

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