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Saturday, April 21, 2012
Utility Rejects "Expensive, High Risk" Undersea Power Cable Project
By News Release @ 1:33 PM :: 8589 Views :: Kauai County, DHHL, National News, Ethics

Undersea Cable Impacts and Costs Too Severe, Says National Grid

News Release from 

A high-voltage undersea transmission cable planned for Massachusetts has been killed by one of the nation’s major utilities because it would be a "high-risk" installation, too expensive to construct, with too many severe environmental impacts and too difficult to maintain.

The National Grid, which serves much of New England and New York State, released the findings of its Cable Feasibility Study this week. The cable would have been built using the latest technology called horizontal direct drilling – the same technology planned for sections of the interisland cable proposed by Governor Neil Abercrombie and HECO, and now being considered by the Hawaii Legislature.

The giant utility has just released an Executive Summary of its Cable Feasibility Study, stating that an underwater high-voltage cable is “a high-risk installation, has increased environmental impacts, has increased project costs, and poses adverse long-term maintenance/ reliability issues . . . As such, this project alternative has been deferred from further analysis and consideration."

Undersea drilling also poses even more environmental risks, National Grid said, because of the environmental impacts of a large platform necessary for cable-laying. It added that if there were a problem, locating and repairing an undersea cable failure would be time-consuming, very costly, and destructive to marine life.

The Governor’s and HECO’s proposed multi-billion-dollar interisland cable would substantially increase Hawaii electric rates and taxes. It would be constructed through the Hawaii Humpback Whale National Sanctuary, the world-famous Molokai Reef, and the Penguin Banks, one of the most significant marine environments in the Pacific. No environmental or economic analyses of this project have been done, and the Governor is attempting to exclude it from such studies and public review.

The cable’s staggering cost and environmental impacts parallel a recent analysis by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who terms Hawaii’s high electric rates as one of the three barriers to the State’s economic growth. Rather than build huge and wasteful wind and cable projects, Stiglitz stated, Hawaii should concentrate on expansion of rooftop solar, which would reduce our electricity rates “to a fraction of what you are paying today.”

I Aloha Molokai has repeatedly stated that the Hawaii interisland cable proposal must be subjected to full public, economic and environmental review before it can be considered by the Legislature. With Hawaii’s electricity rates already the nation’s highest, to continue this colossal and environmentally destructive boondoggle is unfair to all Hawaii ratepayers and residents.


Related Coverage from Salem, MA News:

Sept 21, 2011: National Grid to consider laying cables under harbor

The company said there would be "extraordinary initial drilling costs," Keenan said. It also said maintenance of a conduit that runs through a drilled tunnel under the harbor bed would be impractical and expensive.

"If there is an issue under water, you literally have to pull the whole cable up, and that's very expensive," Keenan said about the concerns of National Grid officials.

April 19, 2012: Cables-under-harbor plan nixed

In its study, National Grid said drilling under the harbor to lay cables would cost $43 million compared to about $28 million for a land route.

Drilling under the harbor also poses additional environmental risks, National Grid said, as does construction of a large platform in the harbor during construction. If there were a problem, locating and repairing a cable failure under the harbor would be time-consuming and costly and could harm marine life, according to the study. The water route also would trigger a complex permitting process.

April 20, 2012: Details needed on National Grid plans


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