Don’t blame the ‘haves’ for rising energy costs

The Dec. 1 article on who pays for developing a sustainable and clean energy infrastructure raises an important issue. But to blame the rising costs on the solar power “haves” who invested in photovoltaic systems is wrong.

It is implied that there is a conflict of interest between the “haves” with PV and those who can’t afford it and must pay even higher electric bills. But the assumption that only the wealthiest can afford PV is erroneous and is not supported in the article. The electric company’s assertion that the new revenue balancing charge is “not to guarantee profits” is accepted without comment. The “HEI 2012 Annual Report to Shareholders” shows that this assertion is false.

The electric company is deeply concerned about the potential impact of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative on its programs, operations, financial condition and liquidity. We can expect the electric company to continue to complain and press for rate increases and more decoupling.

The real question of fairness is how far the Public Utilities Commission will go to approve rate increases that are not tied to tangible benefits received by ratepayers.

Is it unreasonable to expect rates to fall as a higher percentage of our electricity comes directly from the sun and not from expensive diesel fuel? Should those who made long-term investments in PV to make solar power a reality be blamed for the electric company’s apparent inability to meet its shareholders’ expectations without passing on every additional cost to the ratepayers?

Charles M. Carletta