Press Release by Friends of Lana’i
On Friday, Friends of Lana’i (FOL) asked the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to deny Hawaiian Electric Company’s (HECO) attempt to pay itself back from ratepayer pockets for almost $4 million ($3,912,952) spent to “study” one renewable resource — wind — despite repeated warnings from various state and federal agencies (including the PUC) that HECO examine other renewable energy options for Hawaii.
“FOL is concerned that the funds HECO wants to recover were spent without Commission approval or oversight,” wrote FOL attorney Isaac Hall. “The total cost of the studies is really $7,412,952 when you add $3,500,000 in tax dollars HECO dedicated to what HECO calls its ‘Stage One’ study of Big Wind.”
Hall said HECO’s vague reference to “additional stages of study is particularly troubling” since it indicates that HECO intends to spend more tax and ratepayer dollars to study a one-resource proposal that has not received a single permit or approval. He noted that even though HECO insisted it was not asking the Commission to “approve any commitments to actually implement Neighbor Island wind projects,” the Commission’s initial response that HECO identify what “it would take” to pursue other renewable sources, as well as wind, has been “largely ignored.”
FOL spokesperson Robin Kaye said, “We were dismayed to see that even the State’s Consumer Advocate (CA) told the Commission ‘this is a long term analysis’ and ‘narrowly focusing only on big wind and the undersea cable might not be the most prudent expenditure of monies.’ If the CA thinks HECO might be ‘throwing good money after bad’ we in Hawaii have a big problem with Big Wind.”
According to Kaye, “The state-federal programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on Big Wind, the goal of which is to identify social, economic, cultural and environmental impacts and mitigation strategies, is months away from a first draft. Yet HECO now wants to reimburse itself for expensive studies focused on one energy source, wind, based on a false promotion of industrial-scale wind’s “inevitability,” through studies that provide less than substantive reasons for ignoring alternative resources — all supported by sealed or redacted documents.”
Both the County of Maui and Life of the Land lodged similar protests with the PUC in Docket 2011-0112 last week.