Maui Electric Company will hold its second public meeting on Molokai to discuss its Integrated Resource Plan tonight at 6 p.m. at the Mitchell Pau’ole Center.
The IRP process, which began in 1990 but had its framework overhauled in 2011, will be explained at tonight’s meeting. Its central purpose is to develop a plan that will help Hawaii move forward with more renewable energy. The IRP advisory group is made up of 68 representatives from all islands, including four from Molokai.
Members of the advisory group have asked for an extension beyond the June 28 PUC deadline to accept IRP submissions. The group has said they need more time to analyze and comment on the clean energy scenarios and strategies to reduce electricity rates that go into the final plan.
At December’s Molokai IRP meeting, a petition was presented to MECO from the people of Maunaloa showing the residents are, “resolutely opposed to wind turbines on Molokai and the undersea cable through our reef and whale sanctuary.” Complaints from Molokai were also filed with the PUC regarding the “lack of transparency and openness” of the IRP process.
While the industrial wind turbine project has been taken off the table as a result of community opposition, the idea of constructing an undersea transmission cable between Maui County and Oahu is still under consideration.
Other important local issues include the high costs of electrical service on Molokai and the estimated $3,000 cost for an individual study of photovoltaic panel feasibility. Penetration limits for renewable sources of energy are also an important local concern.
MECO will present the community feedback from the first meeting along with updates on planning and actions that have been discussed.
The PUC Consumer Advocate has a website to review documents from the IRP process: IRPIE.com.