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Hawai'i at the Energy Crossroads
Featured Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Oct 6, 2015

REPORT: Hawai’i at the Energy Crossroads

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at


Matt Grimley and John Farrell

October 2015


Executive Summary

On the one hand: Sky-high electricity prices. A 20th century electricity system burning fuel oil and controlled by large monopoly electric utilities. A proposed utility takeover.

On the other hand: A new 100% renewable energy standard.  Rooftop solar on one of ten homes, saving each customer hundreds of dollars per year. Cost-effective energy storage. A rising interest in locally controlled utilities.

Welcome to Hawai’i at the Energy Crossroads.

In the next year, Hawai’i faces decisions that will determine how and if it can meet its 100% goal. Immediately, it includes how to value rooftop solar production and whether to approve a takeover of the Hawaiian Electric (HECO) Companies by NextEra Energy, a multi-billion dollar, Florida-based energy company. But beneath the surface, there is a fundamental question of whether power should be generated from the top-down or the bottom-up.

Hawai’i can achieve 100% renewable energy by focusing on decentralized renewable power. And it can do it for cheaper, with more broadly distributed economic benefits, than its electric utilities are proposing. The following chart illustrates the opportunity for cost-effective distributed electricity.

cost of hawaiian energy sources ILSR

In contrast, the HECO Companies and NextEra are planning a costly, large-scale approach. They want to import liquefied natural gas to supplant fuel oil, slowing the transition to renewable energy and likely costing customers more. They have plans for an inter-island transmission cable to support large-scale renewable energy projects that have, historically, failed to prove cost-effective, and that aren’t likely to be economically or environmentally attractive to their customers.

This crossroads is unique to Hawaii in 2015, but the questions it poses are a “postcard from the future” that will confront all electric utilities and their customers across the United States in the next decade. Will electric customers be able to seize the opportunity of distributed power generation? Or will utility companies maintain their monopoly over the power and economic rewards of the electricity system?

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Featured Article filed under Broadband | Written by Rebecca Toews | No Comments | Updated on Oct 1, 2015

Op-Ed: Community Broadband Networks Drive NC Economy

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

The Roanoke Daily Herald published this op-ed about local government action for broadband networks on September 25, 2015. We were responding to an earlier Op-Ed, available here. Christopher Mitchell wrote the following op-ed. It is stunning any legislator can look at the constituents they serve in rural North Carolina and think, “‘These people don’t need… Continue reading

Featured Article filed under The Public Good | Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Sep 28, 2015

We Now Have A Private Judicial System Just for Corporations

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

In the last 20 years the Supreme Court has created a parallel judicial system to resolve disputes involving corporations that is effectively run by the very corporations whose behavior is under investigation. Here is how that judicial coup against an independent judiciary occurred. In 1925 Congress passed a simple 4-page law, the Federal Arbitration Act… Continue reading

Featured Article filed under Stop Incineration, Waste to Wealth, Zero Waste & Economic Development | Written by Neil Seldman | No Comments | Updated on Sep 16, 2015

Paul Connett’s Zero Waste and Anti Incineration Presentation

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

Paul Connett is a zero waste super star.  A trained chemist, Paul threw himself into the anti garbage incineration movement while teaching as a chemistry professor at Lawrence University in Canton, NY.  Now retired he travels constantly to garbage trouble spots, teaching, inspiring, singing and entertaining audiences around the globe. He is author of, “The… Continue reading