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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 12, 2003

HECO's foes remobilize

Advertiser Staff

Representatives from several organizations that successfully fought Hawaiian Electric Co.'s plan to place power lines along Wa'ahila Ridge held a reunion last night, but it was a meeting most people had hoped would not be necessary.

Public briefings

Hawaiian Electric Co. will hold public meetings this month to discuss plans for a proposed underground transmission line in Honolulu to back up its power system. The meetings will be from 7 to 9 p.m. on:

  • June 23 at the Filipino Community Center's Ballroom A, at 94-428 Mokuola St. in Waipahu.
  • June 24 at the Dole Cannery Ballroom, 650 Iwilei Road.
  • June 25 in Room 101 on the Hawai'i Loa campus of Hawai'i Pacific University, 45-045 Kamehameha Highway, Kane'ohe.
About 50 people gathered at the Palolo School cafeteria to reorganize themselves to battle HECO's latest plans to build a multimillion-dollar underground transmission line to back up its power system. Although details of the plans have not been released, preliminary proposals include underground cables that would run through Palolo Valley.

Many last night were involved in the Wa'ahila Ridge battle, which ended last year when the state Board of Land and Natural Resources rejected the electric utility's proposal. The groups included the Palolo and Manoa neighborhood boards, the Palolo Community Council, Ho'olaulima O Palolo, Life of the Land, and Malama O Manoa.

This time they will be fighting at least three alternatives. HECO says the project is needed to back up the island's electrical system.

HECO will provide details of the proposals at three briefings beginning June 23.

Darlene Nakayama, Palolo board chairwoman and president of Ho'olaulima O Palolo, said HECO has yet to prove that the transmission lines are needed. She said the groups are against the proposals because of the cost, disruption to the community during construction, and potential health risks.

"We kind of hoped that it was the end," Nakayama said of the state board's Wa'ahila Ridge decision. "But we never put all of our guards down because we knew that this could always be regurgitated again."

Kat Brady, Life of the Land assistant executive director, objected to the cost of the project, which she said will be passed on to HECO's customers. HECO has estimated that a line through Palolo would cost $46 million.

"In this fragile economy, to saddle people with a huge debt is just crazy for something that's not even needed," Brady said.