Official: Linking Oahu, Maui grids would save cash

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HONOLULU (AP) — Connecting Maui and Oahu's electrical grids using an undersea cable would save consumers more than $420 million over several decades, Hawaii's energy administrator said.

The savings for utility ratepayers amounts to an average of 6 cents a kilowatt-hour over the 30-year-life of the project, administrator Mark told the Public Utilities Commission at a Tuesday meeting on Oahu.

Glick said linking the grids would increase the amount of renewable energy that could be tapped, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. The cable also would allow the Oahu and Maui grids to operate more efficiently.

The commission is gathering public comment while it studies whether an undersea cable would be in the public interest. The panel has scheduled a similar meeting on Maui for Thursday.

The proposed cable would allow a two-way flow of power between Oahu and Maui.

The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism has said it sees the cable as the first step in eventually connecting all the islands into a statewide electrical grid.

Molokai resident Larry Tool said he was concerned that connecting the Oahu and Maui grids would make it easier for a developer to one day build a wind energy project on Molokai to provide power to Oahu. Two energy developers have tried and failed to win support for Molokai wind projects.

"Developers just see the land as a raw material," Tool said. "They just see it as a project on the drawing board. They don't see the impact on people, the history and the culture."

Activist Henry Curtis is concerned the cable will affect threatened and endangered species because it would run near the whale sanctuary at Penguin Banks, Hawaii News Now reported.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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