Oct. 17–A proposal by the state to expand the scope of the planned Big Wind energy project to include solar and geothermal resources on Maui does not go far enough, according to two groups that opposed the original plan to put wind turbines on Lanai and Molokai.
The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism is seeking to broaden an environmental review for the project after public criticism that the plan’s original scope was too narrow.
Two community groups – Life of the Land and Friends of Lanai –â??say the revised plan still does not embrace a wide enough range of alternative energy options.
For example, DBEDT’s plan does not include the potential for a large-scale solar energy project on Oahu, such as what Sempra Generation is proposing for the Pearl Harbor and Lualualei areas, said Henry Curtis, executive director of Life of the Land.
DBEDT is seeking permission from the state procurement office to spend an additional $2.1 million to expand its contract with AECOM Technical Services, the consultant preparing the environmental review for the state. AECOM received $3 million last year to do the report, identifying the potential impacts and benefits of wind farms on Maui, Molokai and Lanai as well as an undersea cable that would transmit the electricity to Oahu.
DBEDT said it decided to expand the scope of the review to include solar and geothermal resources on Maui after a series of public meetings earlier this year in which it received testimony from more than 250 members of the public and government agencies.
Robin Kaye, a spokesman for Friends of Lanai, said DBEDT’s revised plan falls short of what was envisioned by state Public Utilities commissioners in a ruling they issued in July regarding the Big Wind project.
After one of the developers dropped out of the Big Wind project during the spring, the PUC ordered Hawaiian Electric Co. to seek new bids for utility-scale renewable energy projects that were not limited to wind farms on Lanai and Molokai.
“The renewable energy projects submitted in this future RFP (request for proposals) may be sited on any island that can be reasonably reached via an interisland cable or sited on the island of Oahu itself,” the commissioners wrote in their ruling.
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