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Off the News

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May the technology be with you this time

Not to throw a wet blanket over the latest effort to build a wind farm in Kahuku, but let’s hope this isn’t another case of "been there, done that."

First Wind Holdings LLC just closed on a $117 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Energy Department to build a wind farm on Oahu’s North Shore, saying it will create more than 200 jobs and generate 83 million kilowatt hours of power annually (the equivalent of 139,500 barrels of oil), which it will sell to Hawaiiian Electric Co. under a 20-year contract.

But HECO went down this road by itself back in the 1980s, constructing dozens of wind turbines in the rolling hills of Kahuku, in an effort to achieve oil independence. Explaining in 2006 why HECO lost $25 million before shutting down the project, a company official said that technology was primitive and fossil fuel prices were much lower.

So good luck and more power to you, First Wind Holdings, and to taxpayers as well, who will have to pick up the tab if this latest Kahuku venture fails.

Disconnected, for a few hours

Thousands of people now realize just how dependent on the Internet they’ve become. Nothing could have conveyed that little lesson as powerfully as the massive service failure endured by Roadrunner customers this week.

For most customers, it was all over in a half day. That’s just long enough to give people painful withdrawal symptoms, but not enough to cure anything.

Assuming your Net connection now works, try Googling "Internet addiction" and about a half million links will pop up. One had a four-step prescription recommending that "two weeks is a good amount of time for a break." But how long would it take for all the shrieking to die down?

 

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