Bill to finance interisland cable, SB 2785, passes Senate

| May 8, 2012 | 9 Comments

Last Thursday, the Hawaii State Senate passed SB 2785 by a vote of 22-3. Once signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, this new law creates a regulatory framework for the private investment in, and development of, an inter-island electricity transmission cable connecting the islands.

The State of Hawaii is now seeking to build an undersea power transmission cable to move electricity to Oahu from industrial-sized wind farms on Molokai and Lanai. SB 2785, which passed the Senate, will allow HECO to be reimbursed by ratepayers for all infrastructure costs associated with this project.


Molokai’s representation in the Senate, J. Kalani English, voted in favor of this bill “with reservations.” Rep. Mele Carroll also voted yes “with reservations” in the house version of the bill on April 10.

Immediately after it passed, both Gov. Abercrombie and former Gov. Linda Lingle issued strong statements of support for this bill.

“This is a long-term infrastructure investment that is needed now,” stated Abercrombie. “An integrated grid will stabilize energy prices and equalize rates between the islands, which will benefit all of us. As I mentioned at the start of the session, there is no legislation more critical to our future.”

Lingle wrote: “… My administration advocated and initiated the inter-island cable project, which would be the backbone of the long-envisioned statewide energy grid. The legislation passed yesterday is another step in the direction toward our state’s energy security.”

Opposition to this bill on both Lanai and Molokai has been strong and vocal. Friends of Lanai and I Aloha Molokai, two grassroots organizations, have lobbied vigorously against this bill. Both groups see this bill as a way for Hawaiian Electric Company to get 200-mw “Big Wind” windmill projects placed on each island.

As stated, the new law will create a mechanism to reimburse HECO 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.”

Following Thursday’s vote, FOL issued a statement saying, “It was misleading at best to hear senators, especially the chair of the Senate’s Committee on Energy and Environment, say that all the bill does is establish a regulatory framework should a cable be built. That’s really not all it does. What it REALLY does is give the green light to potential cable developers by GUARANTEEING them and HECO a complete recovery of their expenses through HECO ratepayer bills.”

For its part, IAM released a video on the Honolulu Civil Beat and on Youtube questioning those lawmakers who voted “with reservations.”

When pressed for an explanation, Rep. Carroll said, “We need more community input and data collection on the matter before implementing any Interisland Electric Transmission Cable System.” This was the same explanation put forth by Sen. Sam Slom of Oahu who voted no on SB 2785.

Why would two politicians have the same explanation for opposite votes? Some commenters have suggested that the yes “with reservations” vote is a way for legislators to remain tied to the process so that environmental assessments can be built into an interisland cable proposal. Apparently, lawmakers who vote “no” are unable to participate in the reconciliation process between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

But if the 10 senators who voted “with reservations” had voted no, the bill would have been defeated 13-12, the result those senators seemed to have been leaning toward. Clearly, politics and logic do not mix.

Category: Business, News, Sustainability

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  1. Hawaiiangirl says:

    Very angry at the spineless politians who voted “with reservations”. What the H— does that mean. A yes is a yes no matter how you try to sugar coat it. Get ready for dead whales, wildlife and higher electric costa.

  2. kalaniua ritte says:

    i dont understand how can a tiny 3 inch cable cause so much damage to our vast reef and ocean?

    • Do you have any information that it will not damage our ocean life?Tell us about the cable and what it will be doing and what it is made of? What testing was done to make sure it is safe? Mahalo

    • random808 says:

      It can cause damage, but most importantly it is the FIRST step to have wind farm built on Molokai. How else the energy produced by the wind farm is going? Can’t go to us. “They” didn’t upgrade our current power grid infrastructure. And why build a farm full of windmills (plural) when you only need a single one to power the entire island of Molokai? So they gotta go someplace else. In the end, we’re providing acres of our own island to power up the demand of the other island’s population electrical need (i.e., Oahu).

  3. random808 says:

    I think it’s time Mele Caroll and Kalani English both END their term as Molokai’s senators … IMMEDIATELY.

  4. Anu808808 says:

    i am 16 years old and was born and raised here on the island of Moloka’i. i want my children to grow up here exactly the way i have. we as an island don’t need the windmills here. what will happen if the windmills aren’t being as useful as they thought ? we’ll have a huge windmill junkyard and we definetly dont need that here on our beautiful island ! WAKE UP legislative !!!! MOLOKA’I does not need this !

    • Bev says:

      You are correct about a junkyard of windturbines. Even if they are removed at some time, the huge cement pads will be there forever.
      All the state legislature can see is the benefits to other islands, not Molokai or Lanai. This must be stopped.

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