September 6, 2012

Big Wind hearings

Honolulu Weekly | 5 September 2012

A new round of statewide hearings is planned for Sept. 11–20 on a draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the “‘Big Wind” and interisland cable projects, now renamed Hawaii Clean Energy.

The hearings will be conducted by the federal Department of Energy (DOE), in conjunction with the state.

The new sessions were prompted by a set of 2011 meetings, in which residents expressed concerns about the overall scope of the process. As a result, the DOE has significantly broadened the range of the PEIS to include energy efficiency, distributed renewables, utility-scale renewables, alternative transportation fuels and modes and electrical transmission and distribution.

The goal of the Hawaii Clean Energy initiative is to use renewable energy and greater energy efficiency to supply 70 percent of the state’s electrical power needs by the year 2030.

Under a state Public Utilities Commission ruling issued last year, Hawaiian Electric Co. must explore alternatives to “Big Wind,” which calls for generating 400 megawatts of wind power on Molokaʻi and Lanai, and transmitting the electricity to Oʻahu via an undersea cable. New proposals may use any source of renewable energy and can be sited on any island.

A group called I Aloha Molokai is circulating a petition to halt construction of the interisland cable, and the wind projects have met with opposition on Molokai and Lanai. It’s also unclear whether Larry Ellison, the new owner of Lanai, will support the massive wind farms proposed for that island.

Once the September meetings are complete, the DOE will prepare a final PEIS that reflects and addresses public comments made on the draft document.

The Oahu meetings are set for 5 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at McKinley High School in Honolulu, and Sept. 20 at Castle High School in Kaneʻohe.

For more information, or to submit comments online, visit [].

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