(Honolulu Star-Advertiser) Gov. Neil Abercrombie
on Monday reiterated his administration's commitment
to connecting the state's electrical grids with
an undersea transmission cable, telling officials
gathered for a global energy conference that such
a strategy would allow the islands to share renewable
energy resources and ultimately bring down electricity
Abercrombie, in the opening address at the Asia
Pacific Clean Energy Conference, said false starts
in the past by policymakers and others in Hawaii's
energy industry derailed efforts to reduce the
state's dependence on imported oil and bring
down energy costs.
"This time we are going to take full advantage
and press forward relentlessly on our diverse
resources such as geothermal, solar, wind, hydro,
bioenergy and biomass," Abercrombie said.
"We believe that connecting the islands
through an integrated, modernized grid is the
best way to utilize our islands' best resources
at a scale that will reduce cost. This means
lower rates on the neighbor island as soon as
they‘re connected," Abercrombie said.
Toward that end the Abercrombie administration
filed comments Monday, responding to a Public
Utilities Commission investigation started in
July to determine whether a proposed Oahu-Maui
interisland transmission system is in the public
interest. Officials have said an interisland
transmission cable, if approved, would start
with an Oahu-to-Maui leg.
The PUC opened the investigation after a series
of significant new developments regarding Hawaiian
Electric Co.'s renewable-energy plans, including
one to generate wind energy on Lanai and transmit
the electricity to Oahu via an undersea cable.
Among the developments were the sale of Lanai
to billionaire Larry Ellison, and changes ordered
by the PUC in the bidding process HECO used to
select developers for the renewable energy projects.
Abercrombie said his push for the undersea cable
would not be dissuaded by opposition from several
community and environmental groups on Oahu, Lanai
"We're committed to doing this," Abercrombie
said. "We're going to do it. Our strategy
is to balance technical, economic, environmental
and cultural considerations," he said.
"Yes, we have to take points of view into
account. But opinion that is merely opinion is
not going to be good enough. It has to be science-based;
it has to be reality-based in terms of the political
nature of what is involved in global pricing
right now where energy is concerned."
Mark Glick, administrator of the state's Energy
Office, said the state Department of Business,
Economic Development and Tourism hired energy
consultant Navigant to help it prepare the document
filed with the PUC making its case for the Oahu-Maui
"We looked at it with very clear eyes.
If it didn't pan out economically and technically,
if it didn't provide other value, we wouldn't
have supported it," Glick said in an interview.
"I think it (the PUC filing) will provide
a very clear, objective, defensible position
and a very strong case for why it is in the public
interest," Glick said.