Hawaii’s clean energy initiative is admirable and worthy of our best efforts to achieve 100 percent “clean” electrical generation by 2045. However, this drive to eliminate fossil fuels should not blind us to collateral damage and previously ignored costs. Technologies deemed to be “green” should not avoid scrutiny.
Two years ago, DOCARE launched a new reporting and dispatch system, available through a smart phone app called DLNRTip, through text messaging and through FaceBook. This integrated system allows anyone to promptly report suspicious activity through their smart phone.
A long simmering, contentious issue has finally risen to center stage as both the city council and state legislature passed legislation affecting short term vacation rentals. Mayor Caldwell signed Bill 89 into law and Governor Ige vetoed SB 1292.
The state budget expanded by an unprecedented $1.2 billion this year. State expenditures will increase from $14.4 billion to $15.6 billion, an impressive 8 percent gain, in the next fiscal year. Included in the new budget is debt service on $2.7 billion in new funding for this year’s statewide Capital Improvement Program. Here is a partial list of new projects for the windward communities of Senate District 23.
Should the state allow industrial solar energy development on our best agricultural lands? I most passionately say No. Several years ago, when I served on the House Committee on Agriculture, we voted to allow solar energy projects on agriculture lands rated C in soil quality. When I mentioned to the chair that I thought this might be a pretty good idea, he said he was comfortable with limited solar development on C lands, but he worried that in the coming years, they would come after the prime ag lands, grades A and B. That day nearly arrived.
There are more farms operating in Hawaii today than there were 20 years ago, when some people prematurely declared agriculture dead. The current number of farms in Hawaii is 7000, as compared to 5500 in 1997. Fresh, local food production is rebounding, but still far below where it can and should be. Farmer’s markets make up a small percentage of local food sales, and various restaurants buy fresh local food, too; but a real game changer will come when school lunches are mostly sourced from Hawaii grown food.
Have you seen Oahu Country News, my monthly cable TV program? Each month, or nearly every month, we invite folks into the studio to have a conversation about the good work they are performing around our district with their organizations and businesses. Senate District 23 stretches from Kaneohe to Kahuku to Kaena and Kunia Camp, so there are plenty of great people and projects to highlight.
In the drive to produce 100 percent of our electricity from renewable sources, we should remember new technologies are not without their own challenges and costs. Solar panels cannot generate electricity at night and wind turbines are useless without wind. Of course, we still want to turn on the lights on those calm, windless nights, so a fully redundant system is essential.
Please consider the repercussions of a new state property tax before voting in November. Voters will be asked, “Shall the legislature be authorized to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on investment real property to be used to support public education?” This proposed constitutional amendment is a wide-open invitation to expand the state’s taxing authority without any mandate to actually increase education funding. It should be rejected.
In my last article, I described the blight of double utility poles and my efforts since last year to work with the Public Utilities Commission and the utilities to halt their installation. Last month, the utilities testified before the state legislature that they were close to an agreement to begin solving this problem.
Have you noticed how many double utility poles have sprung up in recent years? Typically, this is caused when Hawaiian Electric installs a new pole adjacent to an old one and moves the electric service to the new pole, while the cable, phone lines and street light remain on the original pole. Since the last utility to relocate its service is responsible for removing the old pole, years often lapse before that utility gets around to it...