In an effort to save energy used by the Molokai Irrigation System, the State Department of Agriculture has proposed the installation of a hydropower plant.
The proposal calls for the installation of a plant that would capture energy used for pumping water in the Waikolu Valley on Molokai’s north shore. This energy would be recovered by a turbine generator installed alongside the existing pipeline.
By generating this power, the cost of operating and maintaining the system would go down since the amount of electricity purchased would be reduced. Revenues could also be generated by selling electricity to Maui Electric Company.
The proposed project would also help to reduce Molokai’s dependence on diesel fuel for electricity generation and help Molokai to meet the State of Hawaii’s 2030 Clean Energy Initiative of 70 percent clean energy by 2030.
A 30-day public review and comment period ends on Aug. 22. Comments can be submitted until this date to State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture, 1428 South King Street, Honolulu, HI 96814. They also need to be sent to the project consultant Glenn Okamoto, AECOM Technical Services, Inc., 1001 Bishop Street, Suite 1600, Honolulu, HI 96813. Contact Martin Nakasone for more information at 808-529-7219.
Meanwhile, two meetings were held recently on Molokai to provide public feedback on a draft Environmental Assessment for Molokai Ranch. The EA reviews Molokai Ranch’s use of the MIS system. While the system was created in 1957 by the DOA to provide an irrigation system to homesteaders, Molokai Ranch has been using it for many years to transport water from its source at Well 17 to the Kualapuu Reservoir.
In 2007, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that Molokai Ranch’s use of the system was illegal and it needed to complete an EA before it could use the system. Molokai Ranch has been paying the DOA $136,000 per year to use the MIS system to supply its water utility, which provides all the water for the West End and Maunaloa.
Molokai Ranch plans to publish the EA online in September. The public will then have a 30-day period to submit comments to the DOA.