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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, August 24, 2001

HECO continues to invest in the past

From its announcement, it would appear that Hawaiian Electric Co.'s plan to build a 13-mile oil pipeline from its tank farm at Campbell Industrial Park to its Waiau Power Plant in Pearl City is little more than a prudent business decision.

But with Hawaiian Electric these days, we're learning to take a closer look.

That certainly was the case with the power company's burning desire to march 100-foot power poles over Wa'ahila Ridge. We've come to suspect that the problem isn't just visual blight in a tourism-dependent environment, but also a shortsighted insistence on building redundant circuits connecting customers with far-off power plants when decentralized generation appears to be the wave of the near future.

So with HECO's hope to build a 13-mile pipeline, we have these questions:

• What would be the environmental disruption and damage from the construction process? What is the added danger of oil spills with an additional pipeline? In 1996, more than 38,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into Pearl Harbor from a ruptured Chevron pipeline.

• Since building a new pipeline would render the Chevron pipeline presently used to supply the Waiau plant redundant, why exactly is a new pipeline needed? Will Chevron feel a need to hike gasoline prices to recover the lost lease income from its abandoned pipeline?

• HECO says the new pipeline will save $30 million over the next 30 years with its new pipeline. If HECO is still nearly 100 percent dependent on power generated from fossil fuel 30 years from now, we're all in real trouble.

More and more we get the impression that HECO is a company wedded to the practice of investing in 19th-century technologies that will become expensive albatrosses around rate-payers' necks long before those investments are amortized.