Democratic Party Resolution Supports Geothermal for Baseload Electrical Power

The following is a resolution that the Hawaii County Democratic Party adopted at its 2011 County Convention. It recognizes the value of geothermal as an indigenous resource, and it recognizes that low cost is a relevant and important aspect that benefits society.

It also notes that the EPA has directed the HECO companies to retrofit its oil-fired plants to comply with emission standards. But that will cause oil-fired plants to stay in operation longer than desirable, and will result in higher cost to ratepayers.

Note especially this:

“NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Hawai‘i County Committee of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i hereby formally requests the 2012 Hawai‘i State Legislature to direct the Public Utilities Commission to require HELCO to develop a timely plan to retire its fully depreciated fossil fuel power generation facilities and accept geothermally generated electrical power as the primary baseload source. HELCO should continue to include other alternative energy sources – such as wind, solar and hydro – in its mix of sources, but geothermally generated electricity must become the primary baseload source for Hawai‘i Island within the next five years; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED THAT the PUC should continue to implement contractual procedures between HELCO and geothermal power producers that represent an equitable return on investment but, as important, reduce the kilowatt hour cost to consumers whenever possible.”

The Resolution:

Requesting the 2012 Legislature to Mandate PUC to Require HELCO to Develop A Timely Action Plan To Retire All Depreciated Oil-Fired Power Plants on Hawai’i Island And Transition to Geothermally Generated Electricity As the Island’s Primary Baseload Power Source

WHEREAS, the Hawai‘i County Democratic Party adopted a resolution at its 2011 County Convention supporting the use of indigenous, renewable geothermal energy to generate baseload electrical power to (1) reduce dependency of imported fossil fuels, (2) reduce our carbon footprint and other environmental risks, and (3) hold the line or reduce electrical energy costs to consumers; and

WHEREAS, Puna Geothermal Venture has proven the safety and reliability of geothermally generated electrical power for Hawai‘i Island consumers for about 18 years; and

WHEREAS, this geothermal power has also generated royalty payments to the State and County of Hawai‘i and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs running in the millions of dollars over the past 18 years; and

WHEREAS, the Public Utilities Commission has in the past year initiated new contractual procedures between HELCO and PGV which are successfully reducing the kilowatt hour cost of geothermally generated power to consumers; and

WHEREAS, all but one of HELCO’s existing fossil fuel-dependent power generation facilities on Hawai‘i Island are fully depreciated but continue to be operated, which has destructive environmental and economic consequences, including forcing Hawai‘i Island consumers to pay the highest kilowatt hour charge in the state – a cost that will continue to increase as the global peak oil situation further drives up the cost of fossil fuel;

WHEREAS, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has recently directed all HEI companies including HELCO to retrofit existing oil fired plants to comply with EPA emission standards. This expensive undertaking will force continued usage of these plants and perpetuate a level of emissions and kilowatt hour costs that exceed that of geothermal. Also, this investment – which will inevitably be borne by consumers – should, instead, be dedicated to the transition to environmentally and economically preferred geothermal power production and/or distribution;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Hawai‘i County Committee of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i hereby formally requests the 2012 Hawai‘i State Legislature to direct the Public Utilities Commission to require HELCO to develop a timely plan to retire its fully depreciated fossil fuel power generation facilities and accept geothermally generated electrical power as the primary baseload source. HELCO should continue to include other alternative energy sources – such as wind, solar and hydro – in its mix of sources, but geothermally generated electricity must become the primary baseload source for Hawai‘i Island within the next five years; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED THAT the PUC should continue to implement contractual procedures between HELCO and geothermal power producers that represent an equitable return on investment but, as important, reduce the kilowatt hour cost to consumers whenever possible.

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