WSJ: Hawaiian Electric Focused on Climate Change, Ignored Fire Threat

WSJ: Hawaiian Electric Focused on Climate Change, Ignored Fire Threat

( – The largest power provider in the state, Hawaiian Electric, was said to have prioritized switching to renewable energy sources rather than spending money to reduce the fire risk around its power lines, according to a Wall Street Journal report published on Wednesday.

On the White House stage earlier that day, John Podesta, a veteran of the left who counsels President Joe Biden on clean energy, blamed climate change for the Maui inferno that destroyed Lahaina and probably killed hundreds of people.

“To stop these disasters from getting even worse, we have to cut the carbon pollution that is driving the climate crisis, and that’s what the Inflation Reduction Act is all about,” Podesta said, using the disaster to promote Biden’s law on its first anniversary.

The San Francisco Chronicle said the fire was sparked by alien, invasive grass species that have taken over the local terrain and burned swiftly in winds fueled by an offshore hurricane.

However, the source of the fire is still unknown.

According to The Journal, suspicion quickly shifts to Hawaiian Electric’s power lines, suspended from telephone poles. Many of these power lines were knocked over by the wind, and some were even seen sparking in the hours before the wildfire erupted.

The Journal also pointed out that Hawaiian Electric had noticed comparable hazards in the recent wildfires in California but hadn’t yet committed sufficient resources to resolve the issue.

Instead, it concentrated on adhering to state “green” energy requirements.

“Since [California power company Pacific Gas and Electric’s] bankruptcy, Hawaiian Electric has made reference in regulatory filings to the risks of power-line fires, but it waited years to take significant action, documents, and interviews show.

During that period, the company was undertaking a state-mandated shift to renewable energy.

In filings over the next two years with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, which is tasked with approving utility projects and spending, the company made only passing references to wildfire mitigation.

Former regulators and energy company officials said the utility was focused at that time on procuring renewable energy.

Hawaii has been pushing to convert to renewables since 2008 when a run-up in oil prices sent electrical rates at Hawaiian Electric—which relied on petroleum imports for 80% of its energy supply—through the roof.

In 2015, lawmakers passed legislation mandating that the state derive 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045, the first such requirement in the U.S.”

According to the Journal, the business had intended to spend about $200 million on Maui but had only invested less than $245,000.

The bureaucracy stopped the wildfire strategy; meanwhile, the corporation concentrated on climate targets.

Copyright 2023.