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Kent says it’s time to ask ‘tough questions’ about state energy policy

Are rolling blackouts going to be Hawaii’s “new normal”? 

Joe Kent, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii executive vice president, told KHVH radio host Rick Hamada that now more than ever we need to ask “tough questions” about the feasibility of the state’s renewable energy goals, because it appears that moderate rainfall was all it took to leave thousands of Hawaii residents without power on Monday, Jan. 8.

“Maybe this is just a fluke thing,” said Kent about the outage, which Hawaiian Electric Co. blamed on bad weather, problems with generating units, and inadequate solar and wind reserve power. 

“Or maybe this is going to be the new normal. … What I’m afraid of is the next time we see a rainy day without wind, are we going to have more blackouts?” 

Kent expressed skepticism about some of the key components of the state’s plan to achieve the state’s 2045 carbon neutrality goal.

Despite legitimate concerns, Kent said the topic is treated as a “taboo” at the Capitol. 

“I ask really simple questions, everyone squirms in their seats,” he said. 

“How are you going to reduce traffic by 20%? What are you going to do? Shut down the highways or tell people they can’t drive? … It’s easy to just plan or pass a law that people should drive less or something, but everybody wants everyone else to drive less. But for their own lives, …  they don’t want to drive less,” he said. 

Kent noted that the state has about 20 years to reduce net carbon emissions to zero, but currently it is only 5% toward the goal. 

“I don’t think this is feasible,” said Kent. “I’m sorry to say, it’s going to increase costs.” 

To hear the entire 20-minute conversation — which also covered the state’s budget, Hawaii’s cryptocurrency rules and expectations for the 2024 legislative session — click on the image below. 

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