When the Apollo 11 Eagle landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, the U.S. achieved a goal set eight years earlier, when John F. Kennedy asked the nation to “commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”

The U.S. succeeded in landing a man on the moon because the nation committed to a simple and concrete goal that fired the imagination of the American people.  The goal of landing a man on the moon worked because it inspired people and elicited their enthusiasm.  Once it was expressed effectively, a consensus for its achievement emerged almost instantly.  Once the nation made up its collective mind about what it wanted to achieve, the creative energies and enthusiasm of the nation aligned with how to achieve it, and its achievement became inevitable.

Blue Planet solar photo

solar panels

Blue Planet Foundation

One hundred percent renewable energy can be Hawaii’s man-on-the-moon project.  Hawaii can achieve 100 percent renewable energy once the people of Hawaii reach consensus on a goal of 100 percent renewable energy.  Once the people of Hawaii make up their collective mind that 100 percent renewable energy is what they want, the creative energies and enthusiasm of the people in Hawaii can align with how to achieve it, and its achievement will become inevitable.

The Indispensable First Step

The indispensable first step in reaching consensus on a goal of 100 percent renewable energy for Hawaii is the utilities making up their collective mind that they want 100 percent renewable energy, and that they want to plan for 100 percent renewable energy, to ensure their future prosperity and business success.  There are at least two reasons why the utilities’ consensus on a planning goal of 100 percent renewable energy is the indispensable first step.

First, the utilities control and decide what renewable energy options in what amounts in what order get interconnected with the grid.  To achieve 100 percent renewable electric power generation, we need utilities that are enthusiastic and committed to achieving 100 percent renewable energy.  The renewable energy plan that actually gets Hawaii to 100 percent renewable energy will be the plan that the utilities make for themselves because the utilities make up their collective mind that they want 100 percent renewable energy for themselves to ensure their future prosperity and business success.

Second, renewable energy options for most ground transportation (e.g., electric vehicles, electric rail transit, and hydrogen-fueled vehicles) depend directly or indirectly on electric power generation.  To the extent that renewable energy options for transportation depend on electric power generation, the utilities are in the best position to identify and systematically evaluate those options, and to compose 100% renewable energy plans that take into account future electric power needs for transportation.

Changing the Utilities’ Collective Mind

So how do we change the utilities’ collective mind so that they reach consensus on setting a planning goal of 100 percent renewable energy for each of the islands of Hawaii?

What if we ask them?

What if we share with them a perception that (1) they already are in a process of transforming to 100 percent renewable energy because, sooner or later, imported fuels are going to stop flowing to Hawaii, (2) they have a choice to make whether or not they want to plan for their 100 percent renewable energy transformation, and (3) the sooner they set a planning goal of 100 percent renewable energy, the greater will be their prosperity and business success?  What if we share that perception with them and ask them to set a planning goal of 100 percent renewable energy for each of the islands of Hawaii?

What if we ask them, “What do you want?”

“What do you want?” is a question that starts minds thinking.  It starts conversations and gives minds the opportunity to convince themselves that they want 100 percent renewable energy, and that they want to plan for 100 percent renewable energy, to ensure their future prosperity and business success.  Once the utilities make up their collective mind that they want 100 percent renewable energy, the conversation can move to the next question, “How do we get there?”

Changing the utilities’ collective mind means changing the individual minds of the people who work at the utility.  When some critical number of individual minds changes to embrace a planning goal of 100 percent renewable energy, the utilities’ collective mind will change and the utilities will reach consensus on setting a planning goal of 100 percent renewable energy.

Anyone and everyone in Hawaii can help change the utilities’ collective mind because anyone and everyone can askthe individuals at the utilities to set a planning goal of 100 percent renewable energy.  Anyone and everyone can ask the “What do you want?” question by which individuals can convince themselves that they want to plan for 100 percent renewable energy to ensure their prosperity and business success.  The people in Hawaii’s renewable energy industry and advocacy groups can ask.  The people in Hawaii’s Legislature can ask.  The people in Hawaii’s state agencies (PUC, DBEDT) can ask.  Anyone who is a Hawaii ratepayer or taxpayer can ask.

Hawaii can achieve 100 percent renewable energy once the utilities reach consensus on a planning goal of 100 percent renewable energy.  We can ask them to set a planning goal of 100 percent renewable energy for each of the islands of Hawaii.  We can ask them, “What do you want?” to start minds thinking and start the conversation through which they convince themselves that they want 100 percent renewable energy, and they want to plan for 100 percent renewable energy, to ensure their future prosperity and business success.

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About the Author

  • Erik Kvam
    Erik Kvam is a managing director of Hawaii Energy Law Services, a law firm serving the Hawaii energy industry. He is a founder and director of Renewable Energy Action Coalition of Hawaii (REACH), a trade group advancing a vision of 100 percent renewable energy for Hawaii. He holds an MS degree in engineering from Columbia University, law degrees from New York University and Georgetown University, and a business degree from the University of Wisconsin.