I Aloha Molokai News Release
A high-voltage undersea transmission cable planned for Massachusetts has been killed by one of the nation’s major utilities because it would be a “high-risk” installation, too expensive to construct, with too many severe environmental impacts and too difficult to maintain.
The National Grid, which serves much of New England and New York State, released the findings of its Cable Feasibility Study this week. The cable would have been built using the latest technology called horizontal direct drilling — the same technology planned for sections of the interisland cable proposed by Governor Neil Abercrombie and HECO, and now being considered by the Hawaii Legislature.
The giant utility has just released an executive summary of its Cable Feasibility Study, stating that an underwater high-voltage cable is, “a high-risk installation, has increased environmental impacts, has increased project costs, and poses adverse long-term maintenance/reliability issues … As such, this project alternative has been deferred from further analysis and consideration.”
Undersea drilling also poses even more environmental risks, National Grid said, because of the environmental impacts of a large platform necessary for cable laying. It added that if there were a problem, locating and repairing an undersea cable failure would be time-consuming, very costly and destructive to marine life.
The governor’s and HECO’s proposed multi-billion-dollar interisland cable would substantially increase Hawaii electric rates and taxes. It would be constructed through the Hawaii Humpback Whale National Sanctuary, the world-famous Molokai Reef, and the Penguin Banks, one of the most significant marine environments in the Pacific. No environmental or economic analyses of this project have been done, and the governor is attempting to exclude it from such studies and public review.
The cable’s staggering cost and environmental impacts parallel a recent analysis by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who terms Hawaii’s high electric rates as one of the three barriers to the state’s economic growth. Rather than build huge and wasteful wind and cable projects, Stiglitz stated, Hawaii should concentrate on expansion of rooftop solar, which would reduce our electricity rates “to a fraction of what you are paying today.”
I Aloha Molokai has repeatedly stated that the Hawaii interisland cable proposal must be subjected to full public, economic and environmental review before it can be considered by the Legislature. With Hawaii’s electricity rates already the nation’s highest, to continue this colossal and environmentally destructive boondoggle is unfair to all Hawaii ratepayers and residents.