The U.S. Department of Energy is calling a do over on its study of clean energy alternatives for Hawaii.
Scoping meetings for a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement were held statewide in February of 2011. During those meetings, including the Feb. 3 meeting on Molokai, the public questioned the singleminded focus by the Hawaii Interisland Renewable Energy Program on the creation of an interisland power transmission cable.
Based on those public comments, the DOE now plans to broaden its scope of study under the title Hawaii Clean Energy Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. The DOE will hold eight public scoping meetings from Sept. 11– 20. The Molokai meeting is scheduled for Sept. 19.
In 2010, when the DOE and the HIREP announced they would jointly begin the PEIS process, the HIREP issued the following statement regarding an undersea cable designed to transmit the proposed 400 megawatts of wind-generated energy from Lanai and Molokai to Oahu: “(The undersea cable) is vitally important to achieve the goal of 70 percent clean energy by the year 2030. It will enable the production of at least 14 percent of the power we need to meet the 40 percent renewable energy goal, significantly cutting Hawaii’s dependence on imported fuel.”
At one scoping meeting after another, the public vigorously disagreed. The efficiency, feasibility and financing of this enormous “Big Wind” proposal was questioned. Alternative energy experts questioned the lack of attention being paid to conservation measures on Oahu and other distributed energy solutions.
Henry Curtis, from the non-profit Hawaiian environmental group Life of the Land, expressed his thoughts on the new study: “Life of the Land looks forward to a hard look at Big Wind alternatives, as mandated by federal regulation and Ninth Circuit Appeals Court rulings. These alternatives include going beyond the transmission grid, to a future that relies solely on energy efficiency, distributed generation and lithium batteries.”
Heading this re-scoping will be Jane Summerson, the Federal Document Manager representing the U.S. DOE for the Hawaii Clean Energy PEIS. She issued the following statement: “In response to public comments, as well as regulatory and policy developments, DOE has broadened the scope of the PEIS to now include energy efficiency, distributed renewables, utility-scale renewables, alternative transportation fuels and modes, and electrical transmission and distribution.”
The DOE invites comments regarding the revised scope of the PEIS. Meeting details, information about the PEIS, the Amended Notice of Intent, and instructions for commenting on the PEIS can be found on the website: http://hawaiicleanenergypeis.com.