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Monday, August 22, 2011

WHY DOES HAWAII PAY SO MUCH FOR ELECTRICITY?

How do electricity rates compare?  All in cents/kilowatt hour:

U.S. average     11.2 

  Oahu               32.8 
  Maui                36.6 
  Big Island        41.7 
  Kauai              41.7 

Japan               26.2 

Denmark           42.89 
Italy                  37.23 
Germany           30.66 
France              19.25 (nuclear power)
Turkey              13.10
Russia               9.49
Finland               6.95 
Canada               6.18 (hydroelectricity)
Argentina            5.74 
Ukraine               3.05 (Why so low?  Click on this source and tell me.
                                      I noticed that Uzbekistan is less than
                                      5 cents/kWh.)

Thus, Hawaii pays in EXCESS OF 300% MORE for electricity than the U.S. average.  Even more telling is that Connecticut is the state with the second highest electricity rates in the country, and their average is just about half ours, or 17.6 cents/kWh.

Clearly, not being connected to a national grid means that there must be redundancies, which are expensive.  Also, we are the only state that primarily uses oil to generate electricity.  The Public Utilities Commission closely monitors this company, so no one locally is making any regular windfall profit, unlike oil companies.
We got stuck with oil and are trapped.  Yes, Hawaiian Electric Company took a conservative look at the renewables in the 80's, but that effort came to a halt when in 1998 the price (current dollars) of petroleum dropped to an all time low, even less than before the First Energy Crisis in 1973.  The price of oil needs to drop by a factor of 5 today to reach that kind of low.  However, if the current $84/barrel sinks only to $50/barrel, many of those renewable energy companies will go out of business.  When Gaddhafi falls, look to see a "dangerous" drop in the price of the Brent Spot Price.

So, we complain about gasoline costing too much (USA = $3.58/gallon regular and$3.82/gallon premium--Hawaii = $4.10/$4.27), about 13% higher in Hawaii, when there should be a march on HECO, which, as approved by the Public Utilities Commission, charge ratepayers 300% more for electricity than the U.S. average.  This cartoon is typical against Big Oil, but have you seen one trying to embarrass HECO?  Actually, I found one:





What can you do about it?  If you believe that Peak Oil will someday mean 50 cents/kWh electricity, then install a solar hot water and PV system.  There are Federal and Hawaii tax incentives to help you out.  With them, it makes  sense to put in a PV system today.  Without them, it still can be recommended because of that 300% factor.  Heavens, don't install a windmill on your roof, as homes aren't built where there are good winds (you need about 17 miles/hour average over the whole year to consider this option).

As the power increases with the cube of the wind speed (thus, the same wind device at 20 MPH will produce almost 10 times the power of the same at 10 MPH) though, what about certain condominiums taking advantage of wind amplification using wind energy conversion systems?  Technically, this could be profitable, but social reasons (noise, safety, the Audubon Society, whatever) will stop you.  Vertical axis devices might be more appropriate.
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The Dow Jones Industrials went up 37 to 10,854.  At one point it was up more than 200 points, then crashed at midday.  World markets were mixed.  Gold, however, hit another all time high, jumping $57/toz to $1910.  Oh, oh...what's this about double-dip?  Will the market drop below 10,000 this week?  The Brent Spot is at $108/barrel, while the WTI Crude Future is at $84/barrel.

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Hurricane Irene, now at 80 MPH, is strengthening, even after rolling over a few small islands.  It looks like she will be a Category 3 by Thursday: .

Here are various predictive computer models, with a couple showing Irene tramping through the South. The midpoint of all these projections is Myrtle Beach on Saturday afternoon. 



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4 comments:

Majid Ali said...

Please help me for Christ sake

BeetleDozier said...

Great post...

I look forward to reading more.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I heard an interview, of Neil Abercrombie, on NPR radio. He said that Hawaii imports its oil, from Indonesia, at $134 a barrel! I was driving and maybe missed something...