Always thought highly of Hawaiian Electric CEO and President Connie Lau. Held stock in the company for years. In August 2018 accepted a contract position with HECO, Connie’s energy affiliate. Statewide IT network was vulnerable and required upgrade. Project cost ratepayers millions of dollars and HECO pummels residents with highest prices in the nation.
Currently they request a 4.1% rate increase. The company burns a lot of dirty diesel and coal with their outdated grid — as well as cash.
“It’s our job to manage costs well, but we’re not immune to criticism.”
Hawaiian Electric CEO and President Connie Lau
Connie claims “getting upbraided by regulators occasionally is part of running a public utility,” yet her company denies me employment for speaking out.
An antiquated IT network also opens hundreds of pukas in defenses. Small holes, but always a risk a virus might sneak through. Most of you weren’t thinking about viruses a year ago. I was. It’s my job, as both a public health and IT professional.
In February 2019 senior management kicked me off the team in confusion related to my medical disability. Former pro athlete, beat up painfully physically, but can drive a keyboard better than I could drive the ball to the rim. Apparently I violated corporate policy. My manager, a truly awesome leader, didn’t know. Teammates didn’t know. HR wasn’t sure when I asked directly. Connie’s system confused players.
Leading local expert, Joseph A. Ernst, an attorney for Hawaiian Electric, offered a business roundtable about the time the company recruited me urging officials to update policies. Hawaiian Electric lagged IT security and personnel policy. Believe decisions of CEOs and board members risked lives of employees and the public. Believe they’re DEAD WRONG in fact.
Much confusion, for real. Considered Hawaiian Electric executive guidance extremely bad and wondered how deeply corporate incompetence afflicted the host.
15 Million Solar Panels in a Hurricane Zone
Had a significant amount of money invested in Hawaiian Electric. If personnel policy was this backward, where was the company heading? Reviewed my investment. Sold.
Have energy and solar experience — in particular working with panels. By rough estimate, Hawaiian Electric’s 2045 Goal requires deployment of some 15 million. Side-by-side, this would consume over 5,500 football fields. Some panels of course would be installed on roofs, yet many hills and vast fields of green would become silicon and plastic parking lots. Anyone mention this to you?
Panels don’t last forever. On average, they lose 4% efficiency per year. In three to four years, that’s 10% reduction. Buy a $20,000 system that promises 6.0kW for your needs. May produce 5.0kW in five years. Maybe only 3.0kW in ten. You’ll be buying additional kilowatts from Hawaiian Electric to supplement. In 25 years, some 15 million panels go into the rubbish pile. Including battery systems, it’s a pending environmental disaster.
More deadly, we live in a hurricane zone. When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, there were about 100 tragic deaths attributed to the storm. Later, investigation revealed another 3,000 deaths due primarily to the failure of PREPA — Puerto Rico’s energy utility. They had bad management — deadly bad.
Puerto Rico and Hawai’i are similar islands in many ways. Both rely heavily on diesel fuel to generate electricity. This is 100-year old technology and sticks ratepayers with exorbitantly-high costs, while damaging the environment. Moving to mainland solar makes sense — if one listens to bankers and CEOs. Public health experts urge caution.
Solar fields and rooftops do not fare well in hurricane winds. Tesla constructed twin facilities in Vieques, PR, and along Kauai’s northeast corner. Maria destroyed the Puerto Rico field.
Hurricane winds battering the 55,000+ panels on Kaua’i could become missiles launched toward Kapa’a to Lihue down the east coast. Anyone think of this? People from Kaua’i remember Iniki. Chickens all over the island. Will it be solar panels next time? Scientists warn of more storms of greater intensity. Hawaiian Electric is DEAD WRONG on 2045 Goal.
Under Connie Lau’s direction, including support from Governor David FRANKENIge, Hawaiian Electric is moving forward as quickly as possible with new field development. Not fast enough for ValueAct CEO Jeff Ubben.
With hair on fire, he penned an urgent message to Hawaiian Electric stockholders warning corporate management “was bad” and said this sort of thing shows HECO is squandering ratepayer money. Ubben demanded the board hire someone outside the company to succeed HEI chief, Constance Lau, when she stepped down.
Maybe Jeff heard me. Tried to ring the fire alarm loudly. While Connie and officials squandered ratepayer money in my situation and refused me an audience, the financial weight of ValueAct got their attention.
Connie has now added three new board members to appease ValueAct: Jim Scilacci Jr., a veteran energy industry executive, Mary Powell, chief executive of a Vermont utility, and Celeste Connors, former U.S. Foreign Service Officer.
Just recently, Eva Zlotnicka, managing director of ValueAct Capital Management’s Spring Fund, joined the board. Major reshuffling of the executive management chairs on the deck of the U.S.S. Hawaiian Electric Titanic. Wow, clearly management bad. Warned you!
Jeff Ubben seeks change of top management; not direction. He demand more rapid transition from non-renewables. He’s a financial wizard. Solar is less expensive than diesel and coal. There’s profit to be made in cheap solar panels.
Apparently Jeff has never seen Puerto Rico’s disaster. Deploying standard solar panels are DEAD WRONG. They build hurricane-hardened systems in the Bahamas. Jeff won’t like the price tag for those!
State and National Security During SARS-CoV-2 Crisis
Did I mention Admiral Tom Fargo — you know, while discussing restructuring of the U.S.S. Hawaiian Electric Titanic? Just announced. Admiral Tom replaced Jeff Watanabe as chair of Hawaiian Electric Industries. Shoots, brah! When Jeff Ubben speaks, people listen. Management clearly is really, really awful.
StarAdvertiser reports Admiral Tom brings deep knowledge of the U.S. military, a major customer of HEI’s electric utility subsidiary and key driver of Hawaii’s economy, to the board.
Connie Lau has her eye on U.S. military pork and therefore adds a military man to direct her board. Probably should have invited an engineer accustomed to deploying in a hurricane theater. Her interest in short-term profits puts American lives and national security at risk. DEAD WRONG.
HECO sells less power during lockdown. Hotels, malls, restaurants and night clubs used to purchase lots of energy. Not now. Energy grid fixed costs, personnel expenses and investments outlays continue. HECO and Connie Lau feel the financial pinch.
The U.S. military is a financial Rock of Gibraltar and stable ratepayer for Hawaiian Electric. Coincidentally, Connie and Michele Saito penned a cheerleading op-ed in StarAdvertiser this week. Connie chairs the Hawai’i Military Affairs Council; Michele Hawai’i Business Roundtable. Go RIMPAC. Big money for a staggering local economy. Rah, rah for the Red, White and Blue!
The sorority sisters pointed out August marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. Clear in 1945 as it is today … Connie remembers. Hawai’i was her “crossroads of the Pacific” and a strategic location for the region and the world.
Connie, as well as HECO top advisor Alan Oshima, are about 75 years old. Like the CDC, they’re fixated on the last war. Dangerous time to be at any national or global crossroads. Smart leaders, many who are women, want us at home. These two local girls call all sailors to a Hawai’i port. RIMPAC is a money-maker. Connie and Michele could be national widow-makers.
As members of the Hawai’i Military Affairs Council and Hawai’i Business Roundtable, Connie and Michele claim much of their time is spent advocating for Hawaii’s military, because it’s second only to tourism in contribution to the state economy.
They note they are sad Hawai’i will miss many economic benefits of past RIMPAC exercises, but “encourage Hawaii’s leaders to be ready to explore responsible options should the COVID19 environment and restrictions change — including the possibility of limited and carefully choreographed ashore activities at the end of the exercise, should Hawai’i leaders and participating militaries be interested.”
UPDATE 5.9.20: William Cole reported in StarAdvertiser:
Twenty-five nations, 46 surface ships, five submarines, 17 land forces, and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participated in 2018.
The exercise included forces from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, South Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam. Brazil dropped out but has been reinvited.
Israel will not participate this year due to COVID19, The Jerusalem Post reported.
U.S. Rep Ed Case (D-HI) said the military “did the right thing” with this year’s RIMPAC and that he disagreed with those calling for cancellation.
MILITARY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE
While Connie Lau, Michele Saito and Alan Oshima are getting up in years, don’t believe they lived through the Spanish Flu pandemic. They may have forgotten:
The American military experience in World War I and the influenza pandemic were closely intertwined. The war fostered influenza in the crowded conditions of military camps in the United States and in the trenches of the Western Front in Europe. The virus traveled with military personnel from camp to camp and across the Atlantic, and at the height of the American military involvement in the war, September through November 1918, influenza and pneumonia sickened 20% to 40% of U.S. Army and Navy personnel. These high morbidity rates interfered with induction and training schedules in the United States and rendered hundreds of thousands of military personnel non-effective.
One possible coronavirus concern comes from U.S. military athletes who participated in the Military World Games in Wuhan. Did they bring the virus into China? French athletes believe they caught coronavirus at the games, 20 days before the first recorded case in the country. A number of French athletes who were at the World Military Games between October 18 to 27 described severe flu-like symptoms while at the event.
Why would Lau and Saito welcome military operations? Did they miss news about U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt? Some sailors this week attempted to return and board the aircraft carrier yet continue to show signs of the virus that sidelined the ship in Guam March 27. Another setback for the crew. Connie and Michele champion additional risk?
Connie and Michele put dollars, profits and “choreographed ashore activities” ahead of the safety of local residents and fitness of the U.S. military. Why is their opinion in this matter of national security even relevant? DEAD WRONG
Fool-Hardy Foolish Fools
Hawaiian Electric’s decision to terminate my employment was fool-hardy from a IT security perspective. Individually, I’m no more valuable than the next computer geek, but if a team needs five players to win the game, not very smart to start with four. Planning to deploy an estimated 15 million solar panels in a hurricane zone is negligent, at best; DEAD WRONG at worst.
They now urge the Pentagon to continue a scaled-down version of naval maneuvers when physical distancing protocols and standard PPE are unsuitable in tight, congested environments. Number one variable in rapid outbreak of virus is high-density population. Military operations are a petri dish.
Connie Lau’s attention isn’t directed on the big picture. She earned $5.7 million in the last reported year and receives big bonuses when Hawaiian Electric prospers. Her focus is on her bottom line and looks to care more about corporate stock price than lives of human beings. She was definitely cruel to me. Watch out, Hawai’i and America! Jeff and I warned you. Please stop punishing me and put me back to work with my team.
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