05/09/2014 02:58 pm ET Updated Jul 09, 2014

Bad: Change Just for the Sake of Change

Things are moving fast in terms of energy, and nobody knows, right now, where we are heading. Where we end up will not only shape our own futures, but it will also determine how easy or hard our children's and grandchildren's lives are.

The PUC just told HECO that the utility had better change what it's doing, and HECO responded that it will. But there are lots of moving parts to this situation, and none of us know where things are going.

Change merely for the sake of change is not wise, and it's worrisome. We need to conscientiously adapt to conditions with careful consideration and purpose. We must have a smart vision, and work toward that vision.

Henry Curtis wrote that Energy Futurists Need Open Minds:

...Stakeholders and regulators need open dialogue on a variety of future scenarios.

And yet, although there are at least four different ways the future can unfold, many are gambling their careers by assuming that the Smart Grid scenario is the future and therefore all other scenarios can be ignored.

Later this month the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) would hold public meetings to discuss their Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.

The feds want to use the 1300-page document to develop guidance on how the DOE can fund the Smart Grid future. They too have ignored the alternatives at their own peril...

Being "first in the world" at something is a risky proposition. It's far better to copy the first in the world. Folks who attempt to be first in the world frequently fail, and the question here is, who is going to pay if we try something and we fail?

From my perspective, it seems clear that we want a future that leaves no one behind and makes us competitive with the rest of the world. Take mountain bikes, for example. Nowadays they have shock absorbers, multiple gears, lightweight material and instrumentation that aids the rider. The tool kit is very light and efficient. But the heart of the system, the wheels, are still round.

Say we want to improve a bicycle to win a race. Do we make a unicycle? A bicycle with every innovation but only one wheel?

We need to be clear about what we want. It's better to carefully consider the heart of the bike, which is its rider and energy source. Do we want the leanest, meanest bicycle rider -- i.e., the best and cheapest energy source? Or a one-wheeled bicycle? Do we want a bicycle with fenders, flaps, mirrors, titanium saddlebags and just an average or slow rider?

Mina Morita, Chair of the PUC, likened the electric grid to an 'auwai. It's the irrigation system that keeps a lo'i alive.

Certainly what we are looking for as we reshape our energy future is a combination of things. We need to make careful choices that make good sense in the long run. We can't change merely for change's sake. It's going to be a long race, and we want to come out ahead.