Letters for March 17, 2015

• Rooftop solar is the key to island’s future energy  • Ching wrong for DLNR post

Rooftop solar is the key to island’s future energy

Mahalo to all the folks on Kauai that were kind enough to support my candidacy for the Board of Directors of KIUC. That I was able to gather over a thousand votes on my first attempt, despite running a very low-key under-the-radar campaign, gives me great encouragement to try again next year.

The point of my campaign, and the reason I ran in the first place, was the conversation about rooftop solar. I believe KIUC needs to support it far more aggressively. Building solar farms like the one at Anahola and the proposed location in Koloa can help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, but require large investments of coop funds and the use of agricultural or, as in the case of Anahola, Hawaiian Home Lands. Rooftop solar uses the roofs of existing structures and the investment is made by the home or business owner, rather than the coop. Paying a fixed percentage of the retail rate, rather than tying the “purchase back” rate to the absolute least cost that KIUC can generate the power itself, using fossil fuels, can go far to promote investment by home and business owners.

Using the coop’s financial purchasing power to help support installation of both rooftop solar and solar water heating through collective equipment purchasing and low-cost loans could also help the coop by reducing demand and help the members by reducing their electric bills. Are these ideas practical? I cannot say for certain, but I believe they need to be part of the discussion about how best to go forward with “our” electric company.

Mahalo,

Bill Peterson

Kapaa

Ching wrong for DLNR post

The Star Advertiser’s editorial board (“Waste no time in voting down DLNR nominee”), Civil Beat’s editorial board (“Carleton Ching: It’s time to start over”), 20-plus groups, over 900 people testifying by letter and in person, and the Senate Committee on Water and Land have determined that Mr. Carleton Ching, the nominee for Chair of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, is unqualified for the job.

After four-plus hours of testimony and two-plus hours of questions from senators, Mr. Ching demonstrated he is not the person we can trust to protect our fragile, finite and unique natural resources.

In his hearing on Tuesday, Ching, the VP of one of the largest private landowners in the state and a lobbyist for real estate developers, failed to satisfactorily explain to senators why he should be entrusted with our precious natural resources. Indeed, Mr. Ching’s resume and statements clearly portray a board member who has worked for an organization that is all about demolishing or diminishing the environmental laws that protect those same natural resources from private development.

Mr. Ching repeatedly stated that compromise and balance are called for when working on solutions for the protection and conservation of our natural resources. We simply don’t need or want a DLNR chair who “balances” away constitutional duties to protect and conserve our public trust natural resources and “compromises” traditional and customary access rights.

Yes, some people with development backgrounds have chaired DLNR, but those men demonstrated a significant commitment to conservation issues by creating strong protections for water or being a director of protection on the Nature Conservancy before ever becoming chair of DLNR. Mr. Ching has not demonstrated such commitment in either professional or volunteer work. What he has demonstrated are his shortcomings of qualities necessary in a DLNR chair: a strong advocate who defends and champions our natural resources.

Now it is time for us to ask Sen. Ron Kouchi to join his fellow senators in opposing this nomination. Please call him at (808) 586-6030 or email him at senkouchi@capitol.hawaii.gov. Then email all our senators at sens@capitol.hawaii.gov with the subject line: please oppose the nomination of Mr. Ching. Make your voices heard.

Lani Kawahara

Kapaa

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