Renewable Energy Push Could Hurt Refineries

Hawaiian Electric Co.

Potential disruptions in the global oil supply have left Hawaii vulnerable to major price fluctuations and the ability to ensure adequate fuel supplies, according to a number of state and electric utility officials.

Unlike other states that have abundant coal, natural gas and nuclear energy sources, Hawaii is nearly 90 percent dependent on oil to power its overall energy needs. The predicament has spurred a major state policy push to switch to renewable energy sources.

But the switch could actually make Hawaii consumers of electricity, gas and other petroleum products more vulnerable, according to Fereidun Fesharaki, an international oil consultant and a senior fellow at the East-West Center. The point was echoed by other economists.

And Tuesday’s announcement by Tesoro, which owns one of two oil refineries in the state, that it is selling its Hawaii assets, may be an indicator of problems to come.

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