Hawaii To Shut Down Last Coal Plant, Replace It With Giant Battery Powered By… Oil

P. Gardner Goldsmith | May 24, 2021
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There’s darkness coming for the beautiful island paradise of Hawaii.

Managing Editor at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE.org) Jon Miltimore reports that Hawaii Governor David Ige’s (D) bureaucracy is ready to shut down the state’s final coal-driven electric power plant, and replace it with a humongous battery that residents now are discovering will be fueled by…


Yep. After instituting central plans under the guise of vaunted “renewable energy” and “green energy” rhetoric, the Hawaiian government is smacking into the reality that economics could have explained to its lever-pullers ages ago: citizens’ energy needs cannot be met – in normative terms, in cost-value terms, or in “environmentally wise” terms – by “green” government impositions.

Miltimore lays it out:

In 2015, Hawaii made history, becoming the first US state to mandate a full transition to renewable energy. The legislation, signed into law by Gov. David Ige, mandated that state utilities generate 100 percent of electricity sales from renewable fuels by 2045.

And, of course, anyone familiar with how freedom and a flourishing economy are inseparable probably will note not only the thorny issue of the “green” mentality, but the core of the problem, the “state utilities.” Once the state runs energy provision, market forces needed to respond to consumer demand for power and for cleanliness are off the proverbial table.

Miltimore adds:

In May, news broke that the state’s largest supplier of electricity, Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO), was considering pulling the plug on development of a key new energy storage system.

The Kapolei Energy Storage Facility—basically an enormous battery—is being built to ensure a stable supply of electricity to the island of Oahu, which is preparing for the retirement of the AES coal plant—Hawaii’s last coal-fired power plant—which produces 15-20 percent of the island’s electricity.

But this forced retirement of the AES coal plant requires its replacement – the Kapolei Energy Storage Facility – to get power from somewhere, and the politicians lording it over everyone on Oahu decided they magically could use “renewables” like “wind” and “solar”.

Reality says not yet. Not for a long, long time.

Writes Miltimore:

The reality is there’s not enough wind, solar, or battery storage to replace the AES plant. Hawaiian Electric has made this quite clear in recent documents, noting that it would not be able to meet its year-two renewable target (75 percent) for ‘more than a decade.’

But, of course, those same political know-it-alls in Hawaii also passed a law in 2020 that, starting after December 31, 2022, bans any new contracts with energy-providers using COAL.

So head-of the state government Ige is in a bit of a sorry state, to say the least, because the elimination of the coal AES coal plant and the lack of “green” energy to do the job of charging the environmentally acidic “giant battery” means that the thing has to get power from some other source…

This means that to replace its soon-to-be retired coal plant, Hawaii Electric will soon be charging its giant battery … with oil. In other words, Hawaiians will be trading one fossil fuel (coal) for another, albeit one far more expensive.

This revelation caused the chair of PUC, Jay Griffin, to complain that Hawaiians are ‘going from cigarettes to crack.’

‘Oil prices don’t have to be much higher for this to look like the highest increase people will have experienced,’ Griffin said. ‘And it’s not acceptable. We have to do better.’

The core of the problem rests both in Griffin’s final comment and the body on which he serves. 


The “we” to which he refers is the state-forced collective, not the free-individual-based market. The “we” is a soft-sounding word of forced inclusion, skillfully and arrogantly mandated upon all residents in Oahu. And it is imposed by the state through the “public utilities” commission.

Why not question the paradigm of “public” utilities? If a “public” utility commission handled the provision of needed things like food and clothing, would consumers find that acceptable? And what would happen to the economic system that handled supply channels for food and clothing? What would happen when politicians started telling food providers and clothing makers what they had to provide?

The answers to those questions are abundantly clear in the famines and mass-starvation seen in central-planning nations like the Soviet Union and China, and you can find out more by watching Episode Ten of the MRC’s special documentary series, “College Unbound.”

Miltimore, a man familiar with ethics and economics, understands this need for market choices, especially in the provision of energy, and he adds:

(T)here’s a reason a tiny percentage of US electricity comes from petroleum. It’s not an efficient way to produce electricity, and it’s very expensive—which is why less than 1 percent of electricity generated in the US in 2020 came from oil.

Until more people understand that “public utilities” are no better than central planning cells modeled after collectivist Russia, China, and other failed socialist states, until more folks tell their kids and neighbors that individual preferences for the tradeoff between scarcity, price, ease-of-provision, and safety are allowed to be revealed in a real market, more central planning fiascos like this in Hawaii will crop up.

Because central planning is tyranny by another name.

How about a different mode of operation?

Like freedom?



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