Richard Ha writes:
Nearly 15 years ago we made the decision to diversify our farm, and we chose to move to Pepe‘ekeo because that area gets lots of free water. How much? One inch of rain falling on one acre equals 27,500 gallons of water, and it rains about 140 inches per year at Pepe‘ekeo. That means 3,850,000 gallons fall per acre.
In an average year, about 2.3 billion gallons of rain fall on our 600-acre farm. We are constantly looking for ways to maximize this resource.
When the price of oil started rising, around five years ago, that got our attention. We decided to see what we could do about generating electricity by utilizing the flume, built by the former plantation. It took us awhile, but we are close to generating all the electricity our farm needs and at an affordable, stable price.
Someone asked me why I work toward lowering electricity rates when I am about to have cheap hydro power. I responded by saying that 70 percent of our economy is made up of consumer spending. The lower electricity rates are, the more money consumers can spend to support local farmers. This helps us, and our workers, on several levels.
Our hydro system: We added a new section to the original sugar company flume system that starts close to a hundred yards further up. From this point, a heavy plastic pipe moves the water to a point 150 feet lower in elevation.
This water pipe goes into the steel container, where it turns a turbine and then reenters the original flume.
Water exits the turbine through an opening in the concrete. Once this system is completed, it will stabilize our electricity cost no matter how high oil prices may rise.