Hawaii has had to deal with energy conservation for a long time–longer than most cities in the U.S. King Kalakaua was already very knowledgeable about electricity when he famously called on Thomas Edison in New York during his 1881 world tour.
“[H]e asked very few questions, and appeared to be more than ordinarily familiar with the theoretical aspects of the subject,” reported The New York Times in its Sept. 26, 1881 issue. “His eyes lighted when he was told that one of the most profitable departments of the business of the company would be the sale of power to manufactories and business firms in quantities as small as a single horse power, costing, under circumstances of normal use, not more than 8 cents a day.”
Electrification of Kalakaua’s Iolani Palace took place five years later. By 1890–three years before the historic all-electric World’s Fair in Chicago–nearly 800 Honolulu homes were wired for electricity.
The electricity for those early homes came from a Nu‘uanu hydroelectric station, but since then we’ve become addicted to far dirtier methods of generation. How to live with our now-insatiable demand for energy at a time when the fossil fuels that powered the 20th century are destroying our atmosphere and planetary ecology is the great quest of the 21st century.
For our Green issue this year, we’re bringing you small ways Hawaii and Maui can once again lead the way. We’ll talk story with former Maui County Energy Commissioner Doug McLeod about the future of Maui’s electricity. We’ll examine the future of meat manufactured entirely without the use of greenhouse gas emitting cows. We’ll examine the arguments in the debate over the county’s proposed waste-to-energy facility. We’ll show you a new website that lets you track Hawaii’s progress on its sustainability goals. And we’ll even tell you how you can get your own FREE home energy kit.
There’s a lot here to consider, but remember that there’s a lot at stake.