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A Unique State
Hawaii rests as an interesting state in the union, both because of its location and history. The island location calls for its own energy cost as well as the fact that it rests in a completely different climate than the rest of the country. Because of its diverse needs as well as separate nature from assimilated U.S. energy needs it has a set of requirements that are entirely unique.
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Hawaii's energy use is far behind that of the rest of the country. In 1995 Hawaii was ranked 50th in energy use per capita in the U.S. Energy also comes with a substantial cost in Hawaii, with a recorded $2.76 billion going to energy expenditures in 1997. This equals out to being about 8% of the states Gross Domestic Product in 1997 dollar value. Oil accounts for 90% of the states energy uses, which includes both residents and visitors. This dependence on oil is a severe issue due to the instability of oil prices and the eventual peak and fall of oil production. Beyond this the air and land quality is in jeopardy because of all this oil use, even though it meets federal standards because the tradewinds take the emissions off the islands.(Hawaii Energy Strategy)
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Price of Electricity
Currently Hawaii has the highest electrical rates in the country. This is a fact that is stopping many from even attempting any kind of expansion in the was of public transportation and similar ventures.(Newman) The Energy Information Administration reported in 2003 that residents of Hawaii payed an average of 16 cents per killowatt hour, while the average in the rest of the U.S. was only eight cents per killowatt hour. If Hawaii was to lessen its dependence on foreign oil for 90% of its energy needs then the cost would become significantly lower, not to mention the elimination of the huge spike it will make in the coming years.
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There is a variation between the islands, leaving residents on the island of Hawaii paying the highest rates. As of 2002 the average household paid $123.65 on their monthly electric bill. This is compared to $102.45 per month on average for inhabitants on O'ahu, and $82.04 average monthly for those on Maui. This is also based on the average stating typical households use 600 kilowatt hours each individual month.
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Renewable Energy Must Become the Standard
There is a dire need for renewable energies in this state, one that surpasses the need for the rest of the country. Because of its frightening dependence on oil for all of its needs there must be alternatives in the works otherwise the rates will multiply many times over. Many politicians, including State Representative Cynthia Thielen, would like to use hydroelectric power because of Hawaii position in the ocean. The major oppositions to this plan is that the state's utility groups are not willing to expel the money for research and development in this field. In 2003 a small-scale experiment to test the usefulness of wave power was established on the Marine Corps Base Hawaii. This is a facility that is open to such research, mostly because it is located in Thielen's district.
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Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture
Hawaii, with the support of many organization such as the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, is making strides toward the inclusion of all renewable energy sources in research right now. That includes not only the wave power use but solar, hydrogen, and others. According to Hawaii's Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, there is an explicit renewable energy development venture and plan aimed at using all the resources at the state's disposal to make it self-sustaining. This is frightening because these alternative sources of energy are only sustainable if done sustainably. If the state will open itself to unregulated commercialization of its environmental resources it will likely destroy the remaining sensitive eco-systems it has at its disposal. The best bet is to use a variety of alternative sources of energy, such as developing alternative energy stations on the land currently occupied by conventional power plants, and then use this to establish a new renewable infrastructure. This needs to happen immediately, but at the same time there needs to be an effort to dismantle the current fossil fuel based system as well. This way those areas can be reutilized for alternative energy so more undeveloped land does not have to be destroyed to put in alternative energy generators. This is critical right now if Hawaii wants to continue with livable energy costs.
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