It is our goal to keep the island residents informed of the progress of the Ikehu Molokai project. As everyone knows, the grid on Molokai has some problems, like high costs for Molokai residents and businesses, blackouts and brownouts, and a high carbon footprint. The Ikehu Molokai project aims to address these problems by converting the island’s electric system to renewable energy.
The utility, Maui Electric Company, has done its part to solve these problems. MECO has taken financial losses to minimize rate hikes and is working with Rick Rocheleau at HNEI to install a battery system to stabilize the grid. However, we believe that the best long-term solution is to use Molokai’s abundant renewable resources. If done properly, this will eliminate carbon pollution, bring down rates, and further stabilize the grid. Furthermore, it will make the island better able to withstand energy emergencies and fluctuations in the world price for carbon fuels.
We have held numerous meetings with groups of residents on the island and we will continue to have these meetings throughout the project’s lifetime. Last year, we made the conscious decision to bring the project to the community early on, before any decisions had been made about the details of the project. While this has meant that we are unable yet to answer many important questions, we have nevertheless received lots of valuable input, including concerns about the location of the project, its impact on nearby residents, and the right choice of technology. This has enabled us to do a better job of moving the project forward and adapting to better fit the needs of the Molokai community.
Originally, we had expected the most cost-effective option to be a large photovoltaic field near Manila Camp, coupled with a pumped storage hydroelectric system. However, after receiving feedback from the community, and further engineering work, we are now taking a broader approach. At this point, we are analyzing the full range of technology options for the project, including photovoltaics, solar thermal, biomass, wind, pumped storage hydroelectric, battery storage, and energy efficiency. Some of these options may enable us to move some parts the project away from residential areas.
We plan to have more meetings with the community in the next few months. At these meetings, we will be able to present the alternative project designs and their locations. Also, we should be able to give an indication of the cost savings for island residents for each of the options. Please keep an eye on the project’s website
www.ikehumolokai.com for the schedule of meetings, as well as a list of community meetings held to date. In the meantime, please send any comments or questions you might have to Dathan Bicoy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, we want to go on record again, as we do on our website, that the Ikehu Molokai project is for Molokai only. We will not connect to any inter-island cable or ship power to other islands.