Former Hawaiian Electric Industries Chairman Bob Clarke says the transmission of electricity from Lanai to Oahu by undersea cable is feasible because the ocean isn’t as deep as on some other paths considered in the past.
Castle & Cooke, which owns most of Lanai, said last week it not only has hired a Mainland company to build a solar power farm for Lanai’s electric needs, but it is also seriously considering a massive wind power farm with the idea of selling the power to Hawaiian Electric for use on Oahu.
Hawaiian Electric Industries owns not only Hawaiian Electric Co., the power utilities on Oahu, but also Maui Electric and the Big Island’s Hawaii Electric Light Co. HELCO buys roughly a fifth of the power it needs from Puna Geothermal, a subsidiary of Ormat Technologies that drives power generating turbines with steam from deep beneath the earth. In years past, HEI considered transmitting this power by undersea cables from the Big Island to Oahu.
Clarke, who this year became a member of the board of directors of Ormat Technologies, said HEI’s research found that such a line was technologically feasible but economically impractical. But now he specifies that in the case of what Castle & Cooke is considering, it’s a different story.
“Bringing power by cable from Lanai is a lot less expensive because of the distance involved and, more importantly, the ocean depth is a lot less,” Clarke explained to PBN. “In fact, we once seriously considered connecting Lanai, Molokai and Maui by cable to allow us to reduce rates on Lanai and Molokai.”
Proponents of both solar and wind power are closely watching what Castle & Cooke does because its control of most of Lanai gives it a freer hand to develop alternative power sites than might be the case in other locales.
By Howard Dicus
10 June 2007
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