If you are concerned about the installation of 70 foot steel towers and overhead electricity lines through Kihei please attend Maui Electric’s community input meeting on Thursday, December 10th at Kamali`i School cafeteria at 6:30 pm. MECO plans to apply to the Public Utilities Commission for permission to install a new high voltage transfer line from their Ma`alaea generating plant to a new power substation across from Kamali’i School to increase service capacity to South Maui. The new line and substation are contemplated with an eye towards servicing the growth of South Mauiâ€™s population and proposed developments, including the new High School and Police Station. MECO is considering several routes and weighing options for both underground and above ground lines.
The above ground lines would require 70 foot steel towers. Underground lines cost more in the short term, but provide long-term savings on maintenance. Now is an excellent time to construct underground lines as many contractors are bidding projects at cost to keep their employees working.
The way utilities work in Hawaii is that a private, for profit company – Hawaiian Electric – has agreed to provide power to all regions of Hawaii and have their rates regulated by the PUC in exchange for having the monopoly on electricity sales. The PUC also has the final say on the construction of any new utility project. Thus far the PUC hasn’t been charged with the responsibility of protecting aesthetic impacts. Tourism is Maui’s #1 industry – basically we are selling scenic beauty. Perhaps we should add this as a criterion?
An alternative to building another substation and running more power lines in the near future is to eliminate demand. Since neither the police station nor the high school have yet been built, why not, in sunny Kihei, design them both to be at least energy neutral, if not actually contributing to the grid?
MECO is looking for community input before presenting the project to the PUC. Further description of the project and proposed route maps are available at www.gokihei.org. Please come and give your manao on this important topic.
Thursday, December 10th
Kamali`i School cafeteria