I would like to think that if we hadn’t had such a deluge on Wednesday, we would’ve had an even larger turnout…! I shot that video during the lulls in the storm…!
Now, I would like to point out what prompted Occupy Hilo to occupy Helco…
…Occupy HELCO is a peaceful non-violent protest sponsored by Occupy Hilo to draw attention to local changes needed to provide abundant clean, affordable, reliable, renewable energy to our community at the lowest cost, and to show support and solidarity for a national day of action, #F29.
You might think HELCO is in the business of providing energy, but a closer look would inform you that its primary function is to provide PROFITS to its parent company, Hawaii Electric Industries, (HEI) and its shareholders. Selling electricity, charging fees for connections to the grid, and charging customers for expansions to the grid are the MEANS by which HELCO generates profits for its owners. HELCO recently complained that too many people were connecting solar electric panels to the grid and reducing its profits below levels it had planned, so it was going to have to raise rates, (HELCO Customers already pay the highest utility rates in the US, at 4x the average US cost for electricity.)
The company had not actually lost money, but its shareholders didn’t receive the expected INCREASE in dividends. HELCO has begun refusing to make solar electric connections that feed electricity back into the grid for other customers to use. Now, we are finding that HEI would like to extensively develop geothermal capacity on Hawaii and Maui, in order to power O’ahu.
Legislation is pending that would regulate a proposed interisland electrical grid / underwater cable to connect Big Island, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and O’ahu. Other legislation pending would exempt projects like this from environmental impact studies, from the usual permitting process, and would allow Counties to begin holding secret meetings (exempted from the sunshine law.) Sounds a bit like ALEC by another name at work here in Hawaii. For more information on proposed legislation, see
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/ and enter HB530, HB1813, HB1893, HB2613, HB2751, HB2742, SB2785, and HB2523 in the field marked Bill Status/Measure Status, You can provide testimony at http://capitol.hawaii.gov/submittestimony.aspx
Wow, that’s a lot. What else?
There have been changes negatively affecting our community to the Hawaii County Building Code, and many national legislative issues… Too much to list here. If you would like to make a difference, turn the page over to find out how to get more information and involve yourself in creating a better future.
We did have three different media crews interviewing and shooting video of our protest, which was our all-time record…!
Here’s one of the ‘reports’…
…The Pele Defense Fund has made a return to oppose the latest push for geothermal power on Hawaii Island.
Members of the organization were present outside the HELCO building in Downtown Hilo on Wednesday, in the pouring rain, protesting the company along with participants in the Occupy Hilo movement. Those representing the Pele Defense Fund also waved signs against the use of geothermal as an energy resource.
The organization led the opposition to geothermal in the 1980s and 1990s. However, the group has been quiet lately, as the most recent push for geothermal power has been gaining momentum on Hawaii Island. State documents have even listed the former 501(c)(3) entity as defunct.
Meanwhile, the Geothermal Working Group, chaired by Hawaiians Richard Ha and Wallace Ishibashi, recently submitted its final report on the resource to the state legislature. The report recommended the expanded use geothermal in order to power all of Hawaii Island, and also the much of the state.
Now, the Pele Defense Fund appears to have suddenly become re-energized.
But with so many former supporters of the Pele Defense Fund now openly advocating for geothermal energy, will the organization be what it once was?
The message from these demonstrators outside HELCO on Wednesday was far from unified. Anti-geothermal signs in one area… but PRO-geothermal signs right beside. The over-arching theme seemed to be in protest of the giant Hawaii Electric Light Company, a part of the mammoth Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc.
These folks wearing masks said it was a part of a larger, coordinated Occupy demonstration around the country, against corporations.
The Pele Defense Fund concerns are more locally focused…
It’s rather ironic that Helco pays PGV (our local Geothermal venture) 11 cents per KwH, yet charges all Big Isle ratepayers 44 cents per KwH…! Then to have the audacity to state that Helco is losing money to all the Solar tie-ins, in which they charge each of those individual Solar tie-ins a monthly fee of $44, for the ‘honor’ of tying into the grid…! I should also add that the Pro-Geothermal folks, sparse in number, were from MoveOn.org, trying to co-opt our Occupy effort…!
Meanwhile, that’s not all that’s on Occupy Hilo’s plate this month…!
Stay tuned, and be active locally…!