Group to fight HECO plans for underground Palolo line
By James Gonser
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer
A group formed in the early 1990s to oppose Hawaiian Electric's proposal at that time for an overhead 138,000-volt transmission line through Palolo Valley has re-formed to fight the utility's new plan to place an underground line along Palolo Avenue.
The group, Ho'olaulima O Palolo, will hold a town meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Palolo Elementary School to discuss HECO's plans and to organize opposition.
Darlene Nakayama, a member of the Palolo Neighborhood Board, said Ho'olaulima O Palolo is a grassroots group similar to Malama O Manoa, a nonprofit community organization that led the opposition against HECO's plans to place transmission lines along Wa'ahila Ridge.
"Now that the threat looks imminent, we have reactivated the group," Nakayama said. "We want everybody to get organized and have residents attend the focus group to talk about their concerns."
HECO announced plans last month to build a multimillion-dollar underground transmission line in Honolulu to back up its power system. HECO will discuss the need for either a 138,000-volt or two 46,000-volt transmission power lines at public meetings beginning June 23 before making a final decision on which to pursue and applying for building permits. An environmental impact statement will be done if required by the permitting authority. Approval from the Public Utilities Commission will be needed.
The company's plan to place a transmission line along Wa'ahila Ridge was denied last year by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources.
Opponents say the line is still not needed because there is enough reliability in the system, Hawaiian Electric should develop alternative energy solutions and the project is just too expensive.
In 1993, the Palolo Neighborhood Board passed a resolution opposing a transmission line in the valley, citing the lack of proven need for the project, residents' concerns about potential health risks and the possibility of placing the lines in unpopulated areas.
Robbie Alm, HECO senior vice president, said the company welcomes comments.
"Public meetings are planned around the island, Windward, Leeward and Honolulu," Alm said. "They are rate payers and may have feelings about the alternatives. The Honolulu meeting is in a large enough venue so Manoa and Palolo residents and anyone interested can come out."
Alm said HECO is also forming a community advisory committee that will meet June 26 and include members of neighborhood boards and other community groups to discuss the proposals. Many groups have indicated they plan to participate, Alm said.
Reach James Gonser at email@example.com or 535-2431.