Renewable Energy Is Key To Hawaii’s Future

Riviere’s Round up… Rep. Gil Riviere

We are all aware of the high cost of electricity in Hawaii and that the vast majority of it is generated by burning oil. Since Gov. Linda Lingle helped launch the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative in 2008, our state has been committed to achieving 70 percent of its energy needs by the year 2030.

Now, the Federal Department of Energy and the State of Hawaii have begun a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement to formally study the diverse renewable energy opportunities throughout Hawaii. The Hawaii Clean Energy PEIS will analyze energy efficiency, localized renewable generation, centralized renewable generation, alternative fuels and electrical distribution. Details are at

This PEIS is an expansion of the Big Wind study that was begun in 2010 to look into the feasibility of placing windmills on Lanai and Molokai and delivering electricity to Oahu through an undersea cable. I have been a strong opponent of the Big Wind and inter- island cable project because of exorbitant costs, uncertain benefits, and vehement opposition from the residents of Lanai and Molokai.

Impressively, more than a dozen residents of Lanai and Molokai attended the initial Sept. 11 public meeting at McKinley High School to testify against placing windmills on their islands so that energy could be exported to Oahu. They wanted to leave no doubt of their opposition to Big Wind, and they wanted assurances that this PEIS is not just a front to justify a predetermined outcome.

Meanwhile, anyone who lives on the North Shore or has visited the area in the last couple months has seen the gigantic new windmills being installed in the hills between Haleiwa and Waimea Bay. These massive structures, which are a hundred feet taller than the highest building in Honolulu, will take some getting used to.

Our state is blessed with many great renewable energy sources, and we need to consider all our options as we move forward on reducing our energy dependence on oil. Solar, wind, ocean energy, ocean thermal, geothermal, biofuels and other sources can each play a part. Indeed, there will not be a single solution.

The paradigm of one utility company controlling all electricity generation and distribution is changing. We see more and more small- and medium-sized renewable energy systems popping up around the state. The challenge is how to produce enough clean, renewable energy in reliable quantity, and deliver it to where it is needed.

It is my great hope that we can move toward a renewable energy future that no longer requires monopolistic generation and distribution. Let’s hope the Hawaii Clean Energy PEIS points us in the direction of true energy independence from imported oil with cheaper, diversified energy generation.

Contact state Rep. Gil Riviere-R, District 46 (Schofield-Kahuku) in Room 319 at the State Capitol; call 586-6380 or email Reference and district infor- mation also is posted online at