The State of Hawaii last week announced that it is seeking proposals from companies and other interested organizations to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement for an undersea power cable connecting the islands of Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, and Maui.
Governor Lingle and the state are anxious to move forward with the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative that calls for Hawaii to use 70 percent clean energy sources by 2030. The undersea cable is a critical part of that plan. Now the question remains of whether Molokai is ready or willing to participate in this initiative.
The undersea cable would connect the islands into one electrical grid to allow the integration of renewable wind power generated in Maui County for transmission to Oahu. It was one year ago that a comprehensive energy agreement was signed between the State of Hawaii and Hawaiian Electric companies to move the state away from its dependence on fossil fuels. Partners in the agreement include the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), the Hawaiian Electric companies, the State Consumer Advocate and the U.S. Department of Energy.
The EIS for the interisland power cable will consider the impacts from the installation, operation, maintenance, possible repair, and potential long-term development. The public process allows the communities and other stakeholders to understand the impact of the undersea cable. A contract award for the EIS is expected by the end of the calendar year.
In a September meeting on Molokai with First Wind, the company that wants to build a wind farm on Molokai, community members asked that no underwater cable go through Mo`omomi Bay. Citizens were nervous about potential danger.
But even if the undersea cable is built, a wind farm on Molokai will happen no sooner than 2013. At the September meeting, many residents expressed concerns about this project. First Wind has said they will not move forward without community support. Neither the Department of Hawaiian Homelands nor Molokai Ranch have agreed to let First Wind build on their land. The plan calls for the installation of up to 20 turbines on Hawaiian Homestead land in Ho`olehua, followed by as many as 60 turbines on Molokai Ranch land in a second phase.