Update April 17, 2012: The office of Representative Mele Carroll did offer a response after being contacted Friday. Here is the response:
“I voted YES with reservations on Senate Bill 2785 SD2 HD2 Relating to Interisland Electric Transmission Cable Systems because I felt that the language in the bill that we were voting on at the time didn’t include a process for the public to participate and determine the decision on whether or not each island would like to see the connection of an interisland cable system,” said Representative Mele Carroll. “We need more community input and data collection on the matter before implementing any Interisland Electric Transmission Cable System.”
A bill that will aid in the financing of an undersea high voltage electric transmission cable linking the islands was approved by the House of Representatives on Tuesday by a vote of 45-6.
Language that would have allowed Lanai and Molokai to be excluded from the legislation was removed at the urging of Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Rep. Cynthia Thielen and Rep. Gil Riviere tried to have this language put back into the bill but the amendment failed.
A story on SB 2785 in the Honolulu Civil Beat quoted Thielen as saying, “If we’re not going to be pointing the gun at the islands of Lanai and Molokai to be our industrial wasteland to provide power to Oahu, let’s say it up front.”
Other legislators argued that this bill is not connected to any specific renewable energy project and no island should be allowed to opt out. Lawmakers also made efforts to distance this bill from the controversial Big Wind projects that have raised strong opposition on both Lanai and Molokai.
The bill, as written, will create a mechanism to reimburse Hawaiian Electric Company for its potential costs in the “installation and implementation of an interisland high voltage electric transmission cable system and for the construction of on-island transmission infrastructure.” The Public Utility Commission would have to review and approve HECO’s request for a customer surcharge for reimbursement.
This bill will allow a wind farm development company or HECO to receive cheap financing rates because the repayment of the loan would be guaranteed by utility ratepayers. In other words, customers will repay the cost for improving the infrastructure through a surcharge on their utility bill.
Opposing this bill were representatives Hanohano, Marumoto, Riviere, Thielen, Ward and Wooley.
Mele Carroll, the 13th District representative whose district includes East Maui, Molokai and Lanai, voted in favor of the bill with reservations.