Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Abercrombie-Moniz intrigue at the Asia Pacific Resilience Innovation Summit and Expo

By Henry Curtis

The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) was launched in 2008.  

In the past few months there has been governmental discussions on the need to replace the outdated HCEI 1.0 with a newer version dubbed HCEI 2.0.

This week the Hawai`i Convention Center is playing host to the Asia Pacific Resilience Innovation Summit and Expo. 

Governor Neil Abercrombie was to be the keynote speaker. He was a no-show.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that “Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz signed a memorandum of understanding for the HCEI on Monday. …Moniz announced his signing of the MOU during a prerecorded address to the opening session … Abercrombie was a keynote speaker.”

Neither Abercrombie nor Moniz attended the conference. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), if it exists, is being kept under wraps.

Tidbits of information about what might be in the agreement are gradually surfacing.

On September 16, 2014 Pacific Business News quoted Public Utilities Commission Chair Hermina Morita Morita. 

In 2.0, we need to develop a diverse portfolio …It can’t be said in just a sound bite, it’s complex.”

The PBN story also quoted Hawaii Energy Office administrator Mark Glick. 

We will bring in resources from the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and working closely with such entities as Ulupono Initiative and Blue Planet Foundation, looking at the biggest challenges with short term plans.”

HCEI 1.0 and 2.0 have a lot in common. Both documents were written in the back rooms and involved secret negotiations between power brokers each seeking to get something out of the agreement. 

They are both political documents.

HCEI 1.0 was the product of Republican Governor Linda Lingle and Republican President George W. Bush. It was initiated during the midterm elections.

HCEI 2.0 was launched by Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie and Democratic President Barack Obama. It was initiated just after Gov. Abercrombie announced his failed campaign for re-election.

HCEI 1.0 was the product of intense secret negotiations between HECO, the State and the federal government. The final document referred to HECO and its subsidiaries MECO and HELCO over 400 times. The role of other energy players were minimized.

HCEI 2.0 was also the product of intense secrecy centered at the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Both HECI 1.0 and HCEI 2.0 refer to the need to be collaborative with key stakeholders; with the understanding that key stakeholders referred to powerful insider elites and not to other folks.

HCEI 1.0 remained a photo static image for five years. The image could not be copied into word documents. Life of the Land made it available in a text version.

One concept promoted in HCEI 1.0 was the need to replace Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) with Clean Energy Scenario Planning (CESP).

Every three years the utility would submit a Clean Energy Scenario Plan to the Public Utilities Commission for review.

The Public Utilities Commission would have “an expedited time period” of six months to review the plan. 

The onus for explaining what was wrong with any submittal would fall heavily on the Commission.

If the Commission rejects all or parts of the CESP, there should be an explanation for non-approval and the implications of that non-approval on the utility’s asset investment and strategic choices for the upcoming three-year period.”

The utility would not have to do things merely because the project was listed in an approved CESP, nor would the utility be restricted from doing things outside of the CESP.

The CESP was openly hostile to would-be intervenors in regulatory proceedings.

This approval should elevate the status of the preferred resources identified in the Clean Energy Scenario Plan Action Plan to give them a presumption of need in any subsequent siting proceeding.”

If an intervenor entered into a Public Utilities Commission regulatory proceeding, the burden of proof would be switched. No longer would the utility have to justify the project. They could instead assert that the project was mentioned in the CESP. The intervenor would have the burden of proof to prove that the project was not needed.

HCEI 1.0 stressed the need for immediate investment which would drive up short-term costs. The plan stressed that consumers want stable prices and the plan would achieve that in the long-term.  

It was assumed by the authors that people and businesses are more comfortable with stable high prices than fluctuating high-low prices because the former allows for better budgeting even though the latter has a lower economic impact to ratepayer wallets.

At the energy conference DBEDT asserted that HCEI 2.0 would move the State in a new direction.  

Six years after its launch the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative is entering a new phase. The Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism has partnered with the U.S. Department Energy to replace the existing HCEI governing framework with one that emphasizes action over process.”

A major difference between HCEI 1.0 and 2.0 is the role of the Public Utilities Commission.

As the regulator and decision-maker the Commission felt that its role in HCEI 1.0 was impartial and that they should stay above the fray.

Governor Abercrombie favors a very hands-on approach.

On April 28, 2014 the Public Utilities Commission issued four massive decisions that are re-writing regulatory policy in Hawai`i.

Rather than having the documents quietly released as is the customary way, the Governor had the Commission attend a press conference in his office announcing the decisions.

This press conference was wedged between the Governor’s announcement that he was running for re-election and DBEDT’s announcement that HCEI 2.0 had been launched.

The Public Utilities Commission began promoting and advocating for HCEI 2.0.

DBEDT boldly asserted at this week’s energy conference that HCEI 2.0 would survive the general elections to be held in seven weeks.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Is the HECO-STEM Collaborative legal?

By Henry Curtis

Hawaii has unprecedented levels of intermittent wind and solar renewable energy resources on its island-based transmission and distribution grids.

Over the next decade the amount of grid-tied wind and solar is expected to continue to grow.

To balance the fluctuating load Hawaii may deploy large amounts of energy storage.

With the exception of pumped storage hydro, energy storage is in a period of great experimentation.

Some battery technologies will use advanced lead acid technology while others will rely on lithium, sodium or flow technology.

Some batteries will be used for micro-second frequency and voltage regulation while others will be used for transferring daytime solar energy to evening and nighttime use.

Some of the batteries will be under the control of customers, some will be passively absorbing excessive energy flowing on circuits and some can be active grid components whereby the utility controls them.

Hawaii can be a petri dish, testing small kilowatt systems to giant multi-megawatt systems; systems behind the meter, to systems attached to the distribution grid, the transmission grid, or to power plants.

One experiment currently being planned is STEM's Distributed Storage. This project is funded through PICHTR and the Energy Excelerator.

The Pacific International Center for High Technology Research (PICHTR) was founded in the 1983 to tackle the challenges of Hawaii’s oil dependency. 

PICHTR launched the Energy Excelerator in January 2013.  Initially funding came from the federal government and the military, Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) has since kicked in some money.

In November 2013 the Energy Excelerator announced that they would give up to $1,000,000 to support Stem Inc.

Stem is a Millbrae, California based Smart Grid energy storage company which uses data analytics to enable their systems to predict and rapidly respond to demand spikes.

Stem plans to deploy several smart energy storage systems within the HECO territory. 

The storage systems which will total one megawatt and will be located on the customers’ side of the meter. 

STEM issued a Press Release. “We see energy storage supported by smart grid software as an increasingly essential component of the modern grid,” said Alan Oshima, incoming president & CEO of Hawaiian Electric. “Through partnerships with innovators like Stem, we will further modernize our system, integrate more renewables, and better serve our customers at lower costs.” 

Hawaiian Electric and Stem will work together to identify and enlist participation of commercial and industrial customers with rooftop solar systems.

John Carrington, CEO of Stem, address the 2014 Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo.  "Over the next six months here on O`ahu, we'll be working with about 25 or 30 customers to install our systems."

"Our system is interesting in the sense that you can aggregate them as they're deployed and they can act like a single virtual ultra-fast responding generator."

Carrington added that "the partnership with HECO is groundbreaking in our view because it really allows us to use distributed storage and integrated with renewables."

HECO appears to be working with STEM to identify and sign up commercial customers that collectively will be part of a virtual power plant.

Whether the HECO/Stem collaboration is legal depends in part of whether the Public Utilities Commission asserts that the collaboration contradicts the Public Utilities Commission 2006 ruling on third-party ownership of behind-the-meter Distributed Generation (DG). 

That regulatory process began in 2003 when the Public Utilities Commission opened a regulatory proceeding (Docket No. 2003-0371) to investigate Distributed Generation.

The Commission granted party/participant status to thirteen entities: HECO, MECO, HELCO, KIUC, DBEDT, Consumer Advocate, Life of the Land, Hawaii Renewable Energy Alliance, Hawaii Energy Services Companies (Johnson Controls and Pacific Machinery), County of Maui, County of Kauai, Hess Microgen and the Gas Company.

Hawaii Renewable Energy Alliance (HREA) asserted that utility's "direct participation in the DG market is inappropriate, unprecedented and will heavily tilt the field in their favor." HREA instead proposed an alternative competition market model.

The County of Maui stated that "distributed generation are disruptive technologies. ...Markets for disruptive technologies are new and uncertain. ...HECO's regulated service approach to competing in a disruptive technology market does not appear to be conducive to flexible and quick adjustments." Maui supported the HREA competition market model.

 Life of the Land filed exhibits from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice "detailing the subtle ways utilities can and do interfere with potential competitors."

The Consumer Advocate asserted that they recognized the fear by non-utilities that "Hawaii's utilities have a tremendous competitive advantage that could adversely affect the effective deployment of DG in Hawaii." 

Nonetheless the Consumer Advocate favored utility ownership of customer-sited DG because a "level playing field could exist."

In January 2006 the Commission issued its ruling.

The commission recognizes that the two aforementioned goals -- meeting the short-term need for capacity and encouraging the longer-term development of a competitive market for distributed generation -- are in tension. The solution must satisfy the first goal without impeding the second.

Accordingly, the commission concludes that utilities should be allowed to participate in the customer-sited distributed generation market either as: (l) an affiliate … or (2) as a regulated utility, upon a showing that: 

(a) the proposed distributed generation project would resolve a legitimate system need; 

(b) it is the least cost alternative to meet that need; and 

(c) in an open and competitive process acceptable to the commission, the customer-generator was unable to find another entity ready and able to supply the proposed distributed generation service at a price and quality comparable to the utility's offering.

Requiring the utility to provide distributed generation through an affiliate has at least four advantages over direct utility participation. 

First, it creates a structure that, in theory, prevents improper cost-shifting because the affiliate will be required to maintain a separate set of books …

Second, the commission can require that the affiliate be treated by the utility like any other non-affiliated business entity. …

Third, it limits the unearned advantages from the monopoly utility …

Fourth, it promotes nondiscriminatory access.”

The HECO Utilities asked the Public Utilities Commission to reconsider their decision. 

HECO requested that a very broad and expansive set of criteria be used in evaluating the system benefits of utility-owned DG.

In April 2006 the Public Utilities commission issued a clarifying order.

The commission finds that the HECO Utilities' broad paraphrasing of the identified benefits of distributed generation …is much too expansive… [if] adopted, any distributed generation project would qualify as satisfying a legitimate system need.”

 “The evaluation as to whether a specific proposed utility-owned distributed generation project meets the legitimate system need criteria must be based on the specific information contained in the application for commission approval to proceed with the project. …

At a minimum, the utility would be well advised to require the customer to include in its declaration a list of the companies that were solicited by the customer and a list of companies that submitted proposals that were considered by the customer. 

In addition, it would be prudent for the utility to require the customer to include in its declaration to the commission the details of the terms of the utility's offer to the customer, so that the commission may determine whether the utility is attempting to utilize an unfair advantage as a regulated utility.”

In the HECO-STEM case it appears that HECO is working closely with STEM to create a behind-the-meter virtual power plant while HECO is seeking to end the Net Energy Metering (NEM) program, cracking down on illegal residential rooftop solar systems and requiring customers with batteries to get pre-approval for their batteries from the utility.

This could be viewed as a utility attack against the independent competitive solar industry and the emerging battery industry while the utility develops and enters the utility controlled solar/battery market.

HECO's collaboration can also be seen as a preemptive strike against alternatives that may be in ratepayers and societies best interests, and an indirect challenge of the PUC's established policies.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work

By Henry Curtis

The Global Commission on Drug Policy gathered in New York City on September 9, 2014 to release a devastating report on the failed Drug War.

The Report, “Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work” notes that the Drug War and the measures of its alleged success are both completely broken.

The Report is "incredibly readable, and visually interesting. If you are interested at all in drug policy, it is certainly worth taking a look at" asserts the Drug Policy Forum Of Hawaii

"The report looks at how governments must take control of black markets through harm-reduction and regulation of all drugs, thereby disempowering organized crime that has been enriched by the current law-enforcement centered strategy, and ensuring that enforcement does not impede the vastly more important dictates of public health. This report should be required reading by everyone working in drug policy."

The Report notes that the upcoming United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) in 2016 is an unprecedented opportunity to review and re-direct national drug control policies and the future of the global drug control regime.

The Report reflects on the Drug War which has been waged for four decades. The Drug War has displaced and killed millions of people in Latin America.

The Drug War is causing massive human rights violations, corruption, violence, fostering discrimination, fueling crime, enriching criminals, undermining development and security, fueling conflict, undermining national economies and wasting tens of billions of dollars.

The traditional goals and measures include people arrested, tons of drugs seized and acres of land eradicated. These are the wrong measures.

The Commissioners on the Global Commission on Drug Policy are a group of highly respected people from around the world. 

Commissioners include George Shultz, the former U.S. Secretary of State; Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve and of the Economic Recovery Board; Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations; Richard Branson of the Virgin Group, cofounder of The Elders and Maria Cattaui, former Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce

Several former Presidents serve as Commissioners including César Gaviria, Colômbia; Ernesto Zedillo, Mexico; Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Brazil and Ricardo Lagos, Chile.
George Papandreou, the former Prime Minister of Greece, is also a Commissioner.

The Report asserts that punitive law enforcement paradigm has failed. 

There has been a massive increase in those arrested and incarcerated and yet drug use has continued to rise.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy has put forth its path forward.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy advocates for an approach to drug policy that puts public health, community safety, human rights and development at the center.

First and foremost, there must be a fundamental reorientation of policy priorities and resources by focusing health and community safety.

Non-violent, low-level participants, should not go to jail. Those who grow, use or sell small amounts of drugs should not be criminalized. 

There must be equitable access to essential medicines, in particular opiate-based medications for pain. 

Marijuana is safer than alcohol and have valuable medical properties. Instead of being demonized, it should be made legal. Coca leaf and certain novel psychoactive substances should also be legal and regulated. 

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Governor Abercrombie kicks off the Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit

By Henry Curtis

The third of the three major energy conferences of this year starts tomorrow.

The first major energy conference of the year was "The Electric Utilities: The Future Is Not What It Used To Be" conference held at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center on March 26-27, 2014.

The conference was unprecedented in terms of the powers that attended and the networking that occurred.

About 245 people attended including the legendary energy guru Hunter Lovins, HEI CEO Connie Lau, HECO President Richard Rosenblum, MECO President Sharon Suzuki, all three PUC Commissioners, the PUC Chief Policy Researcher, the PUC Chief Counsel and key representatives from the Counties of Kauai, Maui and Hawai’i. 

The second major conference was the 3rd Hawaii Island Renewable EnergySolutions Summit (HIRESS) which was held on April 30, 2104 and sponsored by the Hawaii Island Economic Development Board (HIEDB).

With support from DBEDT, the County of Hawai`i, the Hawai`i Energy Excelerator and the EPA, the invitation only event was the only one of the three conferences with a minimal $30 fee.  

The third major energy conference is the 6th annual Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo which runs for three days starting tomorrow.

The venue is the Hawai‘i Convention Center on the corner of Kalākaua Avenue and Kapi‘olani Boulevard, separated from Waikīkī by the Ala Wai Canal. 

This is the premier annual energy conference in Hawai`i with 40 sponsors, 500 companies represented and well over 1000 attendees.

There will be 200 speakers, 40 panel discussions and presentations by nearly 50 start-up companies.  

 Energy insiders from industry, government and the military are gathering for three days to discuss energy policy and to network.

Anybody who can afford the $495 fee can here. The fee includes lunch and pau hana parties on Monday and Tuesday.

There are plenary sessions followed by five separate tracks that meet simultaneously. Two focus on the Hawaii Clean Energy initiative. There is one track for the military, one for agriculture and one for island innovations.

Fewer than 10 community people will attend.

Today the New York Times is running a front page story -- “Sun and Wind Transforming Global Landscape.” 

“Germans will soon be getting 30 percent of their power from renewable energy sources. 

Many smaller countries are beating that, but Germany is by far the largest industrial power to reach that level in the modern era. It is more than twice the percentage in the United States. …

Electric utility executives all over the world are watching nervously as technologies they once dismissed as irrelevant begin to threaten their long-established business plans. 

Fights are erupting across the United States over the future rules for renewable power. …

The word the Germans use for their plan is starting to make its way into conversations elsewhere: energiewende, the energy transition. 

Worldwide, Germany is being held up as a model, cited by environmental activists as proof that a transformation of the global energy system is possible. …

But it is becoming clear that the transformation, if plausible, will be wrenching. 

Some experts say the electricity business is entering a period of turmoil beyond anything in its 130-year history, a disruption potentially as great as those that have remade the airlines, the music industry and the telephone business. …

The big German utilities are warning — or pleading, perhaps — that the revolution cannot be allowed to go forward without them. And outside experts say they may have a point.

The Achilles’ heel of renewable power is that it is intermittent, so German utilities have had to dial their conventional power plants up and down rapidly to compensate. 

The plants are not necessarily profitable when operated this way, and the utilities have been threatening to shut down facilities that some analysts say the country needs as backup. …

In fact, the problems with the energiewende (pronounced in-ur-GEE-vend-uh) have multiplied so rapidly in the past couple of years that the government is now trying to slow down the transition. …

But the German public is not taking that well.”

Against this rapidly changing worldwide transformation landscape, the Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo will have panels on Grid Integration, Modernizing the Grid, Microgrids, Military Microgrids, Smart Grids, Global Agriculture Initiatives. LNG Opportunities & Impacts, Energy Storage Solutions, Agricultural Energy Economics, Energy Excelerator, Energy Security, Solar Reliability, Waste-to-Energy, Advanced Biofuels, Seawater Air Conditioning, OTEC, Smart Cities, Renewable Transportation, Global Agriculture Initiatives and HCEI 2.0.

The Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo will feature PUC Chair Mina Morita, PUC Commissioner Lorraine Akiba and Jackie Kozak Thiel.

There will be speakers from HECO, KIUC, Hawai’i Gas, Parker Ranch, Ulupono, Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer, Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, National Weather Service, the U.S. Small Business Association, Young Brothers, AECOM, First Wind, Honeywell, Hawaii Energy, Blue Planet Foundation, Ulupono Initiative, University of Hawaii, The Nature Conservancy, Rocky Mountain Institute, Johnson Controls, ABB, American Vanadium, Referencia System, AWS Truepower, Pacific Biodiesel Technologies, AECOM, Hawai'i Gas, Matson, NOAA, Makai Ocean Engineering, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Sandia National Laboratories, Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, National Security Technology Accelerator (NSTXL), Hawaii Island Economic Development Board, U.S. Army Pacific, the U.S. Pacific Command and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Toilets are waiting to be tapped for energy storage

By Henry Curtis

Every building stores water and wastes water yet virtually none of them use the water to generate electricity.

It is obvious that Downtown Honolulu is full of tall buildings. 

These buildings use electricity to pump water up to toilets and sinks on their upper floors. 

After being used once, the waste water is dropped hundreds of feet. A drop of two feet can produce electricity. Yet no electricity is generated from the falling water in high-rises.

Years ago Shanah Faith Trevenna served as the Sustainability Coordinator for Sustainable Saunders at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

At that time she told me then that energy could be recovered from flushing a toilet. Water is forced down under pressure. It could pass through a turbine. The waste water could be a resource, instead it is considered a useless waste product.

Water storage can also serve to alleviate emergencies. Some high rises have pools on an upper floor. In the event of a blackout the water could be drained producing emergency power.

Stored Water accounts for 95 percent of all energy storage on transmission grids in the United States.

A utility meter is a dividing line between the utility grid and a customers’ micro grid.

Micro grids can generate and store electricity. Rooftop solar can be used to generate electricity. Existing water tanks can be used to store energy.

Some research is being conducted on designing buildings with large internal water reservoirs.

Others like Qianzhi Zhang  at Arizona State University and Professor Jianmin Zhang at Hangzhou Dianzi University in China’s Zhejiang Province are looking to tap into existing internal water systems.

They note that all city high-rise buildings have a water loop system for drinking, sanitation, swim pool, fire control, water drain, etc. Some are equipped with water tanks system.  The water system as well as pumping system are already in place.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

HECO's Energy Plans are intentionally difficult to fathom

By Henry Curtis

Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) was simply to refer to even if it was a failure.

The utility would plan for the future. The plans were inadequate. Alternatives were not analyzed. Assumptions were wrong.

But it was all there in one place for anyone to examine.

What has replaced IRP is an unrecognizable blob.

It has no over-arching name.

The pieces are scattered all over the place under a variety of new names and acronyms.

The Plans may be more accurate, but finding the pieces is truly difficult if not impossible.

The first part of this new package is the HECO’s Smart Grid Roadmap.

Last March HECO filed the document in Docket 2008-0303. The Public Utilities Commission had closed the docket three years earlier. 

HECO did not notify anyone -- including parties in that docket -- that HECO had made the filing.

In August HECO, MECO and HELCO each filed their “Power Supply Improvement Plan" (PSIP) with the Public Utilities Commission.

In August the HECO Companies also filed a single “Distributed Generation Interconnection Plan" (DGIP) with the Public Utilities Commission.

These August filings are the comprehensive plan forward but do not include the Smart Grid Roadmap.

The August filings both reference the HECO “Enterprise Information Systems Roadmap" and assert that the document "was filed on June 13, 2014.”

There are no footnote explaining where the document can be located. The internet does not help locate the document.

The Public Utilities Commission Data Management System publishes a Daily Log of every document filed with the Commission.

For both Friday June 13 and Monday June 16 there is no Data Management System reference to the “Enterprise Information Systems Roadmap.”

On those days there were other documents filed in other dockets, but searching them reveals little.

Back in January 2013 HECO opened Docket 2013-0007. HECO requested Public Utilities Commission approval to spend over $80 million for their new EAM/ERP software.  

The purpose of Enterprise Asset Management ("EAM") software is to minimize management cost (design, construction, commissioning, scheduling, operations, maintenance and decommissioning) for the physical assets.

The purpose of Enterprise Resource Planning ("ERP") software is to automate finance/accounting and to facilitate the flow of information between all business functions inside the boundaries of the organization and manage the connections to certain outside stakeholders.

In 1999 HECO implemented Ellipse ERP/EAM system developed by Mincom, Inc. 

In the meantime HECO hired Accenture to help HECO design their Smart Grid Roadmap. 

Apparently the Accenture and Ellipse systems are not compatible so HECO opted to kill their Ellipse package.

In December 2013 the PUC rejected the HECO request for $80 million.

In July 2014 HECO filed another application (Docket 2014-0170) for their re-vamped Enterprise Resource Planning & Enterprise Asset Management System. 

That document again references the mystery filing. “The Companies filed their Enterprise Information Systems ("EIS") Roadmap on June 13, 2014.”

Still no citation.

One issue facing the utility is how to design programs that reward the company while providing services and options for customers with DG.

The programs could be called the “Utility-Customer DG Interfaces” or “Friendly Meters” but instead is called the “Advanced DER Technology Utilization Plan (ADERTUP).” It might be pronounced "add er up."

HECO's Distributed Generation Interconnection Plan asserts that net metering must perish.

"In evaluating technological requirements needed to increase the amount of DG that can be supported, the current Net Energy Metering (NEM) program and rate structure, which increasingly adversely impacts non-NEM customers, has become unsustainable.

Some fixed costs associated with supporting the grid are shifted to full service customers, with many NEM customers paying less than their cost for services they receive from the utility. This creates inequities between NEM and non-NEM customers."

HECO proposed a new "DG 2.0" tariff whereby the fixed charges portion of the bill will rise and the variable charges will be re-aligned with different rates for giving and getting electricity from the grid. The net impact will be a rise in rates for NEM customers.

Not all cross-subsidies will be eliminated or are even being considered.

Currently NEM customers are not compensated for excess energy given to the grid. This will continue. 

Even if a NEM customer gives enormous amounts of free energy to HECO, the utility still wants to raise rates for that customer.

Another cross-subsidy exists between residential and commercial customers.

It is easier to service one large company than many homes, therefore commercial rates are lower.

Commercial interests require higher levels of reliability than residential units. The added costs to beef up the system are shared by all.

 Commercial customers are easier to service
 Lower rates
 Commercial customers require higher levels of reliability
 Increased grid redundancy costs shared by all

 If there are two things that are obvious about the HECO Plans, it is that they are over-complicated by design, and that HECO will continue to enjoy strong profits.

Related Story: Why the net metering fight is a red herring for utilities

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ageism rears up at Medical Marijuana Task Force meeting

By Henry Curtis

On Tuesday the Hawaii Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force held a meeting at the State Capitol.

The Task Force was established by the 2014 Hawai`i Legislature through the passage of House Concurrent Resolution 48.

The mission of the Task Force is to “develop recommendations for the establishment of a regulated statewide dispensary system for medical marijuana." 

Drug-Free Hawaii testified against HCR 48.  “Dispensaries do not insure the marijuana provided is safe and meets the needs of individuals who are sick and dying since there is no way to certify the product. No true medicine is smoked or eaten.”

Drug-Free Hawaii instead suggested that Hawaii go through the federal regulatory process and Big Pharma. The pharmaceutical industry is experimenting with cannabidiol (CBD) products.

It is preferable to develop marijuana—based medications through the FDA process. …Efforts should be made by Hawaii and other medical marijuana states …to set up special clinical trials for the truly sick and dying to access CBD-based drugs that are being developed and are in trial stages.”

A 2014 Hawaii survey by QMark Research documented a continuing upward trend line regarding marijuana.

In Hawai`i 85 percent supported a dispensary system for medical marijuana, 77 percent believe jail time is inappropriate for marijuana possession and 66 percent supported legalizing the use of marijuana for adults. The poll was commissioned by the Hawaii Drug Policy Action Group.

Drug-Free Hawaii serves on the Task Force. Their unrelenting hard-line position makes the law enforcement position seem downright tame.

Last November the Drug-Free Hawaii published a Marijuana Fact Sheet which asserted that marijuana has no medical use; instead it harms people. Marijuana “reduces resistance to common illnesses …reduces ability to learn and retain information [and] …impairs short-term/long-term memory (especially in youth).

Drug-Free Hawaii noted that the Fact Sheet was “funded by State of Hawaii Department of Health, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division (ADAD) through Federal Substance Abuse Prevention.” 

The Coalition for a Drug-Free Hawaii told Hawaii News Now that dispensaries shouldn't even be necessary soon, as pharmaceutical companies are coming to the rescue.

Contrary to national reports on the amount of tax revenue flowing into the State of Colorado’s coffers from medical marijuana dispensaries, Drug Free Hawaii asserts that “the tax revenues that are generated from marijuana will be greatly outweighed by the social costs, and we know that from alcohol and tobacco.”

Drug Free Hawaii argues that medical marijuana is a gateway to other drugs, and medical marijuana dispensaries are a gateway to legalizing marijuana. And apparently thinking is bad.

There’s no proven medicinal benefits at this time,” according to Coalition for a Drug-Free Hawaii executive director Alan Shinn. “States that have medical marijuana laws are more prone to these legalization initiatives because it gives permission for people to think about these things.”

At the Task Force meeting on Tuesday, Drug-Free Hawaii ventured into the age discrimination arena.

Drug-Free Hawaii Executive Director Alan Shinn spoke out. “I pulled out an old news article that the concern in 2011 from the Department of Public Safety was that most of the prescriptions are being written for patients that are in their 20's and 30's, who are, as we know, among the health community, they're probably demographically the most healthy. So I'm just wondering if that was a concern.”

Ted Sakai responded that the law enforcement community does not question the law. If a person has a certificate then they are entitled to use medical marijuana.

Task Force member and State Senator Will Espero responded. “It's a generational thing. For example, my grandparents, your grandparents may not be into medical cannabis. But the younger generation has stressed changed and peoples’ attitudes and opinions change" on a variety of issues. Younger people may be into medical cannabis while older people may prefer pills.

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