BY HENRY CURTIS – HECO, Hawaii’s monopoly energy company, continues to promote TINA (There Is No Alternative) to Big Wind. HECO has even refused to evaluate alternatives that they themselves were advocating for just months ago.
Life of the Land has filed a Motion to Intervene in PUC Docket 2011-0112. The docket was opened so that HECO could acquire nearly $4M of ratepayer money for completed Big Wind studies. This is illegal. Rate recovery can only occur after acceptance of the Final EIS.
Other cases may impact this one.
Former State Rep. Hermina M. Morita filed a complaint with the Public Utilities Commission regarding the operation of the Hawaii Superferry (Docket 2007-0324): “The legislative intent is not in question. The plain and unambiguous language of HRS 343 prohibits the proposed action  until the Environmental Assessment is completed, or if required, the final Environmental Impact Statement is accepted by the appropriate authority.”
U.S. District Judge David Ezra (1991) regarding Geothermal energy on the island of Hawaii said: “In addition to the contribution of federal funds, and the arguably significant role various federal agencies and officials have played as part of the Interagency Group, the federal government has been involved in the Project in a number of other ways.  the Hawaii legislature described the Project as a “federal/state partnership.”  The Government now argues that it may use the appropriated funds to contract for [studies]. This approach appears to be in conflict with NEPA’s clear intent.”
In addition, ratepayer financing should not occur for these studies. Past PUC rulings clearly state that HECO needs to evaluate alternatives. Like the EIS Preparation Notice issued last December, HECO went beyond the boundaries of the PUC requirement and forget to analyze alternatives.