Seawater Air Conditioning Project Still Struggling

Flickr: Rjones0856

A company that has been working for years to develop a seawater air-conditioning system for downtown Honolulu still needs numerous permits before it can proceed.

Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning told Civil Beat last week that it expects to break ground on the project that could cool up to 40 percent of Oahu’s urban core by the end of June

But state and federal agencies indicate the project still has a ways to go.

The company has yet to complete its federal environmental impact statement and still needs to obtain more than a half dozen permits. It’s unclear if environmental concerns, such as the possibility of monk seals and sea turtles getting sucked into an intake pipe, have been resolved. And a pipe that discharges large amounts of water into the ocean may have to be extended, adding considerable cost to the project.

Whether customers will end up saving money on the air conditioning, a long touted benefit of the systems, is also questionable, though Bill Mahlum, CEO of the company told Civil Beat that the majority of customers would save money beginning the first year of operation.

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