Senate Passes Undersea Cable Bill While Backing Away From Big Wind

Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism

Hawaii moved closer Tuesday to the creation of an interisland electric grid that would be capable of transmitting renewable energy between islands.

A system of undersea cables is a top priority of Gov. Neil Abercrombie and state officials who see it as critical for achieving Hawaii's clean energy goals.

On Tuesday, the Senate approved a measure that would help undersea cable companies attract financing for laying cables between the islands. Senate Bill 2785 will now be debated in the House. It passed with 23 senators voting in favor of it and one opposed. Eight senators who voted yes did so with reservations.

A nearly identical bill never made it out of the Legislature last year, where it got bogged down in controversy surrounding Big Wind, a project that would bring wind energy from Lanai and Molokai to Oahu. But this year, the state energy office and lawmakers have pushed hard to distance the bill from the wind farms, and move policy toward the development of energy projects such as geothermal and wind on Maui and the Big Island.

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