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PUC: Lana’ians for Sensible Growth given participant status

State regulators on Monday granted Lana’ians for Sensible Growth limited participant status in the ongoing review of whether transferring Lanai’s public utilities to the island’s new owner, Larry Ellison, is in the public interest.

At the same time, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission denied Life of the Land’s motion to intervene in the case.

The commission last month gave interim approval allowing Ellison to take ownership of Lanai’s water, wastewater and transportation utilities from David Murdock’s privately held Castle & Cooke Inc. The PUC said at the time that it has the right to ultimately disapprove the transfer.

The interim approval was timed with the closing date for the overall sale of most of the island, including more than 88,000 acres of land, the island’s two luxury resorts, two golf courses and other assets for an undisclosed price.

Citing Ellison’s pledge to invest $10 million in the three utilities over the next five years, the PUC said that it believes Lana’ians for Sensible Growth will be helpful in developing a plan for those promised improvements.

The PUC said that it denied Life of the Land’s motion to intervene in part because it focused mostly on issues related to building of the proposed wind farm, the rights to which have not been transferred to Ellison.

“Simply put, (Life of the Land) fails to allege any connection between the issues associated with the indirect sale and transfer of the three Lanai-based public utilities and the proposed Lanai wind farm and related infrastructure,” the PUC said.