My Turn: We can do better

On Tuesday, an article proposing the development of two solar collection facilities on state land mauka of the NELHA site and adjacent to the harbor at Kawaihae harbor appeared in this paper.

It is of course appropriate that alternative energy production is being considered but we can do better. To begin, the proposed locations are being considered on the basis of availability, and while the sun shines on both, that would be the only valid reason for selection.

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Ten years from now these sites will be in the middle of the expansion of our coastline development, and, will create a hideous addition to the view plane of upslope properties.

If we are going to join the international effort to replace fossil fuels with “green” energy then let’s do it on an international scale. Some will recall my past (20 years) proposal to create a 10-square-mile solar collector on the cinder flats between the summits of Hualalai and Mauna Loa. The idea then is only more relevant today in that some of the power produced would be applied toward drawing water out of wells into perched lenses recently discovered, which would be distributed to the leeward side of the island, which, in turn, would produce energy through in-line generators as it traveled downslope.

It’s a massive undertaking, granted, because it is, and because it would employ developing technology, address recognized need and has international as well as cultural relevance, the funding through agencies such as the USDA (federal farm bill), U.S. Army, Congress, and the private sector would be eager to participate – this is what they are looking for.

We just need to think at this level and stop dreaming up inconsequential (me too) projects, and show some imagination, as well as some intent to participate on the world stage.

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Let’s understand that what is now being proposed at the federal level is not more spending, it’s more investment, and there is a difference.

Kelly Greenwell is a former Hawaii County Councilman and a resident of North Kona.