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Jun 09

Posted on in Energy News

Following Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address, The New Yorker editor/writer Hendrik Hertzberg noted that the words “climate” and “warming” were entirely absent from the President’s speech, and that “global” was mentioned only once and as a reference to “global trade.”

Hertzberg later went on to submit, “Obama’s State of the Union address was a masterly exercise in rear-guard tactics disguised as visionary optimism. A section was devoted to fighting climate change, but under an assumed name: ‘clean-energy technology’…” 

I had agreed with him on this point, but the recent flurry of editorials by columnists I greatly respect highlighting decisions that render Obama a sellout on clean energy and environmental policy makes me reconsider. (As The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein once posed, “Can you solve global warming without talking about global warming?”) The statistics about climate change that were cited and the potential consequences of these decisions make it all even more depressing.

It’s depressing, but I’ve concluded it’s important to know about. Because if you don’t know about it, how can you do anything about it?

Jun 07

bon-voyage-wave-gliderThe ocean is a big place, and that is a major constraint when it comes to measuring and monitoring its conditions and activities. In 2007, Puako-based Jupiter Research introduced the Wave Glider Unmanned Maritime Vehicle (UMV), now developed by spinoff company Liquid Robotics. This remotely controlled, unmanned surfrider requires no fuel, motor, or propeller. Instead, it operates entirely by wave and solar energy, and its sea trials take place right here in Hawaiian waters.

The Wave Glider converts wave motion into forward thrust that essentially provides everlasting propulsion. Meanwhile, solar panels charge the batteries that control the vehicle’s electronic sensors and payload systems. It has been reported that these robust and resilient robots have successfully circumnavigated the Big Island, made the journey from Kona to San Diego (in 79 days), and weathered 50-knot winds and 21-foot seas.

Jun 06

Posted on in Energy News

Tamba snapped this photo of the sign at the Chevron in Kaunakakai two weeks ago. All I can say is, "Ouch."

Jun 02

To facilitate the permitting process for installing home EV charging stations, the City and County of Honolulu has posted the application online. You can find it here. **Note: You will need the Materials & Methods Approval Number, which your electrical contractor should be able to provide.

Hopefully, by the time most of Oahu's early EV adopters receive delivery of their pre-ordered Nissan Leafs, Mitsubishi i MiEVs, and Chevy Volts, there will be more public stations to recharge them, too. Businesses that wish to install a charging station qualify for a $500 rebate offered by DBEDT's EV Rebate Program, which is supported by federal stimulus funds. The rebate is also available for residential plug-in stations. It expires on Sep. 30.


May 12

Posted on in Events

Thank you to all the guests who came to visit our Solar Lounge soiree at fishcake last night. From reporters and editors to news anchors and cameramen, and all the leaders of business, government, and nonprofit organizations, your work charts the course for Hawai‘i's future. We appreciate your interest in sharing Blue Planet's vision for a secure and sustainable energy future free from fossil fuels.

Lance Arinaga did a fine job of documenting the festivities for Honolulu Pulse/Star-Advertiser. Thanks, Lance! And Nadine Kam, likewise, nailed the message Blue Planet was hoping to deliver. Thanks, Nadine!

A big mahalo, too, to all the folks who made it possible for the evening to come together: fishcake, Sunetric, Better Brands, He‘eia Pier Deli and Market (oh SO ono), Kona Brewing Company, Hawaiian Springs, and the artists who let there be solar-lit lamps, Mark Chai, Wendy Kim-Messier, and Keiko Hatano. And special thanks to Mahlon Moore, who endeavored to help us all find religion.

May 11

We're hiring! You can click here to learn about the available positions. 

Reading over the desired qualifications listed in the job descriptions, it strikes me that job descriptions in general are largely perfunctory. They don't mention some of the most important, albeit most basic, skills--the kind you don't earn a degree for. (Like: Must be not lazy enough to google "perfunctory" if you weren't sure exactly what that means.)

Thinking of my fellow staff, such unspoken qualifications come to mind: willingness to start work very early or end work very late (the mean between the median start time and the median quit time would be somewhere around 1 am or 1 pm), a predisposition to fuzzy math, a cheeky sense of humor, and a certain je ne sais quoi... let's call it lust for life. Oh, and ...

you pretend like you're not nervous in front of the camera.

On Friday, Becky Dunning, our director of operations and advancement--often referred to as the glue that holds Blue Planet together--bids us farewell. She will be the new managing director at Honolulu Theatre For Youth, and we wish her all the best. (And we promise not to call her when we can't find or figure out something. Unless we're desperate. No more than once an hour, Becky.)

Becky lends the perfect example of that intangible qualification that often means more than all the others. Maybe it's thoughtfulness. Or kindness. Or compassion. Or... I know! It's big feet. At the end of a very long day (and week and month) yesterday, she returned from the florist with a fresh bouquet of gardenias for me and Ivory. Let me tell you, the sweet fragrance of gardenias has a miraculous way of stifling the stink produced by work indigestion. Thanks, Becky. Those are some big shoes to fill.


May 02

Posted on in Blue Planet Updates

The lightning and thunder is going off outside the office. A little spooky because it's dark and otherwise silent.

Jeff just emailed the staff the following message, subject "Because you wanted to know...": The average lightning bolt contains about 250 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Huh. That didn't mean too much to me. I asked him to put that number into perspective.

J: Enough to power 800 CFL bulbs for a full day.

Me: Is it fair to say, then, enough to power 60 homes for 24 hours?

J: Or to keep an average Hawai‘i house running for about 12 days. But I'm no Ben Franklin.

Me: OK, Mr. Kilowatt-saved-is-a-penny-earned.

J: Actually, 29 pennies.

Now back to your regularly scheduled browsing.

Apr 29

Dear Blue Planet Friends,

Thanks to your actions, House Bill 1520, the measure for on-bill financing passed through the legislature and will become law.

Blue Planet Foundation lobbied aggressively for on-bill financing because of its potential to benefit the many residents who want to install solar or buy energy-saving appliances, but simply can’t afford to. An on-bill program would eliminate the restrictive upfront cost of these upgrades by integrating the purchase as a line item on residents' electric bills. The purchase would be paid off over time using the money saved directly from the household’s reduced energy use.

Apr 28

Posted on in Energy News

Remember what I was saying about that Hail Mary? Hail Mary, hell yeah! HB 1520 received a unanimous “aye” from the conferees in attendance at this afternoon’s hearing. This was a completely different ending than that portrayed by news stories that reported it dead two days prior.

How did this come about? We must give credit where credit is due...


Thanks to Rep. Coffman, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection, who chose not to give up on this bill. Thanks to Sen. Gabbard, chair of the Senate Energy Committee, who championed on-bill financing from the beginning. Thanks to the local media for raising awareness about the bill because they recognized how much it could benefit Hawai‘i residents. Thanks to Blue Planet’s legislative affairs team, who lobbied aggressively for this and other critical policies that will make it possible for Hawai‘i to become energy self-sufficient. Thanks to Neenz, who’s like the coconut wireless on steroids.


But most of all, thanks to all of our friends who took the time to voice their support. This would not have happened without all the calls and letters and emails you sent to legislators telling them how important this bill was to you. Believe me when I say it made a difference—I heard it from the legislators, themselves. You spoke, they listened; in essence, you directed the course of our future. After more than a decade of being cynical and disillusioned about the political process, this exercise actually restored my faith in our democratic system of government. At least for now.

HB 1520. So much drama! It lived. It died. It was resurrected. Repeat. The last mile was the longest, but you ran with us all the way. Thanks for helping us get to the finish line! We’re eager to see the PUC establish an on-bill program that will bring clean energy into people’s homes, lower our electric bills, and reduce Hawai‘i’s dependency on foreign oil.


Apr 27

I am pleased to report that this afternoon Rep. Denny Coffman scheduled HB 1520 to be heard tomorrow, April 28, at 3:20 pm in room 225 at the Capitol. We commend him for his willingness to not give up on a measure that he recognizes is a critical policy for accelerating Hawaii's transition to clean energy. Households across the state will look forward to having clean power at home and enjoying the energy and cost savings afforded by on-bill financing, especially as the price of oil continues to pinch our wallets. He had a choice, and his action demonstrates his level of commitment to energy security and sustainability for Hawaii.

The journey of this bill, from life to death to resurrection, has been down a long and bumpy road. It would not have happened without the support of all of Blue Planet's friends and friends of friends who want to end Hawaii's dependence on foreign oil. Thank you all so much for speaking up, for taking action at a critical time, and for telling our legislators how much this bill will benefit Hawaii residents.

More to come tomorrow. Keeping our (cramped) fingers crossed!

Clearing the Path for Clean Energy