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State Begins Interisland Cable Study

DBEDT Energy News Release

The first step in the long process of running an undersea electric cable between islands has begun. The State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) Energy Office has announced preparations for a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) for the Hawaii Interisland Renewable Energy Program (HIREP). The PEIS will examine the impacts of the development of up to 400 megawatts (MW) of wind energy on Maui County, the transmission of that energy to Oahu via an undersea cable and its integration into Oahu’s electrical grid.

The PEIS will include an analysis of impacts and benefits, but will not grant any development rights or privileges to a specific wind farm project. The PEIS will specify best management practices for the three major components:

•    Transmission of renewable energy via undersea cable to Oahu: The undersea interisland cable will allow the sharing of renewable energy generated in Maui County, particularly Lanai and Molokai where resources such as wind are substantial, with Oahu, where resources are limited and demand for energy is high.
•    Generation of up to 400 MW of wind power on Lanai and Molokai: This PEIS will focus on wind, but the HIREP program could be expanded in the future to include other types of renewable technologies.
•    Utility infrastructure upgrades on Oahu needed to integrate large amounts of wind energy into the electrical grids.

“We have to seriously study the best way we can use the renewable resources we have so that we can significantly reduce our use of imported oil,” said Ted Peck, administrator of the State Energy Office.  “The PEIS and the subsequent project-specific EIS will increase the opportunities for public input. Our Neighbor Islands have the richest renewable energy resources. With an interisland cable, we can share these homegrown resources…”

In 2008, the State Legislature passed a law to create the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) with the goal of 70 percent clean energy by 2030. This can be achieved with a 30 percent increase in energy efficiency and 40 percent new renewable energy development. Wind energy to be studied in this PEIS has the potential of contributing 14 percent to the HCEI goals.

The public has a three-month opportunity to provide input through the beginning of March. For more information on how to comment, log on to www.hirep-wind.com. The PEIS is funded by the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and has a scheduled completion date of April 2012.

For more information, contact: Ted Peck, State Energy Administrator, (808) 587-3812

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