Hawaii Looks beyond Oil
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Shai Agassi, founder and CEO of Better Place,
In short, for the HCEI to work, every business in the state will have to plan on a new model that looks at energy consumption as less of a simple cost and more of a bottom-line item that can contribute to, as well as take away, profits.
The problem that the HCEI seeks to address isn’t that hard to understand. As Jeff Mikulina likes to point out, “Hawaii is punch drunk on oil.” Mikulina is the executive director of the Blue Planet Foundation, an organization committed to weaning Hawaii from fossil fuels, so the sentiment might be expected. But the numbers bear him out. In fact, Hawaii depends upon fossil fuels — mostly oil —for more than 90 percent of its energy needs. The cost of this oil addiction is staggering. State energy administrator Ted Peck puts it in context, “Hawaii’s GDP is about $60 billion. We pay about 11 percent of that in energy costs.” That means Hawaii exports nearly $7 billion a year to buy oil. “That cost gets embedded in everything,” Peck says, which leaves the state disturbingly vulnerable to the rising cost of oil. “I’m not a fear-monger,” Peck says, “but I think that’s at least as compelling as global warming.”
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