Friday, October 17, 2003 Hawaiian legislator makes waves for renewable energy..

Hawaiians pay the highest electricity rates in the nation due to their dependence on imported gas and oil to generate energy. But state Rep. Cynthia Thielen believes the Hawaiian Islands are surrounded by the cleanest, cheapest and most abundant source of energy in the world – the ocean.

Thielen, the assistant Republican leader in Hawaii’s House of Representatives, hopes that Hawaii will soon become a leader in generating electricity by harnessing the power of the ocean’s waves.

“Hawaii has one of the best wave climates in the world, we could virtually power our island on wave energy for one third the cost of fossil fuel generated electricity, but without any negative impact on the environment,” Thielen said in a telephone interview.

Thielen, who turned 70 in September and is in her seventh term in the legislature, has been a life-long environmentalist. Although she is a Republican and considers herself a fiscal conservative, she has been a vocal critic of the state’s environmental policies and supports developing clean sources of renewable energy - an area she said Hawaii is woefully lacking in.

She said island nations like Japan and England have been experimenting with wave power technology since the 1970’s with mixed results, but technological developments made in the past decade have made wave power economically feasible.

On the Scottish isle of Islay, for example, the world’s first commercial wave power station has been generating enough clean, renewable energy to power 400 homes for the past three years, Thielen said.

Although many wave energy devices have been invented, none operate on a large scale and very few have been tested in a real ocean environment, energy experts say.

Thielen believes that wave power could not only lower electricity rates, but also reduce pollution by lessening Hawaii’s consumption of fossil fuels.


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