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When it comes to pricey gas, Ghadafi should get the gaff

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Remember the good old days when gas was going for only $3.62 a gallon?

Oh, how I yearn for the horse-and-buggy days of mid-February 2011.

But what happened between then and now, when Hawaii drivers now have to deal with $3.94 a gallon, which is the highest average price at the pump in the U.S.?

AAA Hawaii says gasoline prices rose by double digits last week, while crude oil prices rose to more than $105 a barrel. This was all due to "continued Northern Africa and Middle East turmoil."

Libya is on the brink of civil war, with Moammar Gadhafi, who’s ruled for 42 years, pitted against rebel forces. Libya, which pumps 1.6 million barrels of oil a day, is the ninth-largest producer among the 12 members of OPEC.

But just this past week, Shokri Ghanem, chairman of Libya’s National Oil Corp., said oil production has been cut down to only a half-million barrels a day.

On the off chance Gadhafi is a regular reader of this column, I have this message for him: Eh, Gadhafi. Bum bye, we lose money! Mo bettah you quit already.

OK, so I still have a ways to go before matching Reagan’s "Tear down this wall" moment. But the civil unrest half a planet away is hitting us hard in the wallet.

The embattled region also left an impression on state Rep. Mark Takai, who was deployed to Kuwait in 2009 with the Hawaii Army National Guard.

"We were very busy there, but there were times where we could sit back and contemplate life," Takai says. "Being in the Middle East, half a world away from Hawaii, you understand the challenges that Hawaii as an island state faces, being that we’re so reliant on fossil fuels."

Inspired, Takai returned home to the isles with a renewed purpose regarding renewable energy. He has since purchased photovoltaic solar panels for his Aiea home. His February power bill? It would’ve been only $17.87, but because he overproduced 161 kilowatts, it ended up being free.

On Wednesday, Takai picked up his all-electric Nissan Leaf vehicle. He was among the first in the state to sign up for the vehicle, and now among the first to drive it on the roads.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states the annual electricity costs for the Leaf will be $561. Considering that some people spend $65 or more to fill up more than once a month, he’s looking at big savings.

The car is priced at $32,780, which doesn’t include the $12,000 tax credit he expects to receive for the purchase. Takai says it’s all about the economy.

"We spend $7 billion a year importing fossil fuels into our state," Takai says. "That’s more than seven times our current deficit. As we move toward becoming more energy self-sufficient, we’re going to be better off."

Regardless of what direction we go, let’s hope we see better days ahead.

——

Gene Park can be reached at gpark@staradvertiser.com or on Twitter as @GenePark.

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