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Lanai group seeks to intervene in ‘Big Wind’ project  

Credit:  The Maui News, www.mauinews.com 12 October 2011 ~~

Friends of Lana’i filed a motion to intervene Monday in the “Big Wind” docket that seeks to generate renewable energy throughout the state and transmit it to Oahu.

The group wants to oppose a further $2 million of public money to pay for a consultant study on a project that now has the potential to extend beyond wind to solar and geothermal power.

The study of an interisland power cable, before a method or location has been selected, is premature, the group claims.

Its letter to the Public Utilities Commission says that “additional funds applied to a flawed process that arbitrarily adds two new resources – without any support for that choice – is not in the state’s interest.”

The original proposal from Hawaiian Electric Co. to provide a modest amount of wind power on Oahu has grown, and the PUC exempted it from normal procurement rules.

It became known as Big Wind when the proposal grew to a projected 200 megawatts of wind on Molokai and 200 megawatts on Lanai.

But that version had to change when the Molokai venture component, First Wind, failed to gain access to land. Earlier this year, a new developer, Pattern Energy, began working on the Molokai component.

Then the PUC extended the scope from Molokai and Lanai to all islands and beyond wind to any renewable resource.

Friends of Lana’i spokesman Robin Kaye said: “HECO has signaled its intent to move Big Wind forward on Lanai and Molokai, regardless of cost to the environment, cultural sites, and state tax and ratepayers.”

Among other concerns, the group objects to the mounting costs of studies, frontloaded on the ratepayers.

“HECO has now hired cable consultants before a single bid has been submitted,” said Kaye, “which tells us they are not interested in first learning if Oahu might have resources available on Oahu, that would make the costly billion-dollar cable unnecessary.”

Friends of Lana’i also filed an objection with the state Office of Procurement.

The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism “arbitrarily decided, after consulting with unidentified federal and state agencies, that solar and geothermal should be added to the mix – but they don’t explain why only these two resources, why only Maui County, and why they have refused to include all reasonable alternatives as required by state and federal environmental law,” Kaye said in a news release Tuesday.

Source:  The Maui News, www.mauinews.com 12 October 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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