As part of that strategic planning effort, we are soon to be registering with the State of Hawaii as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. That means we want to formalize our board and officers as well as finalize our mission and bylaws. We are looking for individuals passionate about the moral and spiritual dimensions of climate change to serve on our board and help guide the future of our organization. As an interfaith organization, we welcome diversity of backgrounds, traditions, and beliefs.
Speaking of 100%
renewables, SB715 and HB623 have
passed out of all the committees to which they were referred.
now go up for full floor votes. No date set for that yet.
Green Energy program not living up to expectations. The Green Energy Market Securitzation (GEMS) program administered by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) has officially started but is running into a lot of bumps in the early going. First, unlike initially planned, it is not focused on lower cost and cost-effective solar hot water systems. In fact, it does not even include them; only photovoltaic (PV) systems are allowed. Second, currently it is only available to non-profits, not homeowners or renters. Third, given HECO's foot-dragging on PV interconnection approvals, the GEMS program was revised to require energy storage to bypass the interconnection approval delays. This adds significantly to the system cost. Finally, there is no on-bill financing option available yet, meaning customers cannot pay for the system through their utility bills. This was a big part of the appeal and justification for the program. While churches are among the non-profits who can participate, the problems with the program are going to limit participation in the near-term until the PUC and DBEDT work out HECO's interconnection approvals and financing options. Stay tuned...
New Solar Farms Planned for Oahu. Eight new large PV projects, ranging from 15-50 MW in size (one household uses about 600 kW-hr or 0.6 MW-hr per month) are planned for land in Central Oahu and the Waianae coast. Most of the land is rated as low-grade agricultural, but it still represents a partial loss of open space and changing view planes. Negotiated rates for the PV-generated electricity range from 13-17 cents per kW-hr, less than fossil fuel-generated electricity. While HIPL encourages truly distributed energy generation, large-scale renewable generation will have to be part of the mix to meet our goal of a 100% renewable energy future. Finding ways to accommodate multiple uses of land dedicated to renewable energy generation should be a central objective, from using rooftops and covered parking to house PV panels to siting wind turbines in large pastures or agricultural fields. Wherever possible, we should strive for "both/and" solutions rather than "either/or".
Naomi Klein: This
environmental reporter and author Naomi Klein packed both the
auditorium and the overflow viewing room at the University of Hawaii on
Feb. 26, talking about her new book which covers how climate change is
a wake-up call for us to finally challenge the increasing corporate
concentration of economic and political power in America and globally
to address greenhouse gas emissions and achieve our renewable energy
Community Media is broadcasting the talk on March 13 at 7:00
March 14 at 9:00 PM on Channel 54.
Oil spills increasing. With the boom in US oil drilling enabled by fracking, refineries are busier and train car transportation of oil has increased dramatically. Along with this has been a rise in oil spills and accidents. One of the latest of note occurred in northwest Illinois, but multiple significant spills have occurred recently in Ontario, West Virginia, California, and elsewhere due to train car derailment, oil refinery mishaps, and wastewater spills. Unfortunately, many smaller spills that do not directly threaten human health are not reported, so the public is laregly unaware of the extent of the problem, and long-term effects will be hard to trace back to the sources. It's just another reason to move away from fossil fuels.
Pipelines are not the answer. While rail transport of oil tends to result in more frequent spills, oil pipelines still leak more oil, overall. And these spills are generally larger, in more remote areas. The tradeoff is that rail car derailments tend to cause more explosions and fires, posing greater immediate risks to human life and direct air pollution. So the answer to these tradeoffs, of course, is to work even harder to replace oil with renewable liquid transportation fuels. And in Hawaii, to stop using oil to make electricity, period.
January 2015 was warmer than average in the US. Believe it or not, more areas in the continental US were warmer than were cooler than average this January, making it the 24th warmest January on record (since 1895). Many western states were "much above average", while most New England states were only "below average," although they got more than their fair share of snow, as well. Since this dichotomy of temperatures is caused at least partly by global warming, it may be more the new normal for US winters.
Divest from fossil fuels: it's good for your health. A consortium of health care providers and nonprofits in the UK released a report arguing that climate change is bad for human health; therefore, the health sector should divest from fossil fuels. They compared this to the choice to divest from tobacco companies, which was done in the 1990s. Among the health effects of fossil fuel use include global warming increases in vector-borne diseases and loss of crop production, air pollution-related diseases, and diseases associated with fossil fuel extraction. Doctors from the UK have previously urged the World Health Organization to declare climate change as a public health emergency.
Harvard students sue the university to force divestment. A group of Harvard students, calling themselves the Harvard Climate Justice Coalition, have taken the administration to court, seeking to force them to divest from fossil fuels. The judge in the case has not yet issued a ruling, but the Harvard administration and the state attorney general are seeking to have the lawsuit thrown out due to the students' lack of standing, i.e. they do not represent anyone actually harmed by the effects of climate change and other ills associated with the fossil fuel industry. Divest Harvard has been urging divestment through traditional activist means, but this legal challenge represents an important step to debate the legal aspects of our moral obligation to act on the causes of climate change.
However, we also appreciate your financial support. The Interfaith Alliance-Hawaii continues to serve as our fiscal sponsor. Your donation to HIPL should be made out to them and sent to our mailing address for the time being.
As always, send us your stories, news, and events for inclusion in next month's newsletter.
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