EXCLUSIVE: Lanai buyer pledges $10 million to upgrade utilities

Published: Jun. 22, 2012 at 10:15 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 22, 2012 at 10:28 PM HST
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Larry Ellison
Larry Ellison
David Murdock - Source: Robin Fancy
David Murdock - Source: Robin Fancy

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Billionaire businessmen David Murdock and Larry Ellison's deal for the island of Lanai is set to close next Wednesday, just one week after the sale was revealed.

Life of the Land executive director Henry Curtis questions the need for speed.

"If I summed it up in one word it would be 'weird.' It's moving very quickly," he said.

For the sale to be finalized, Murdock wants the Public Utilities Commission to expedite granting interim approval of the sale and transfer of Castle & Cooke's water, sewer and transportation utilities on Lanai to Ellison.

Castle & Cooke asked the state's Consumer Advocate not to object to the request.

But assurances were needed that Ellison is committed to running the utilities. Hawaii News Now has learned an agreement has been reached.

"Mr. Ellison, the buyer of these three regulated utilities, has agreed to put in $10 million in infrastructure improvements over the next five years for the regulated utilities," consumer advocate Jeffrey Ono said.

In addition, Ellison won't require Lanai's residents to pay the money back.

But some are suspicious.

"Where did he come up with the number $10 million?" asked Ron Mcomber of Lanaians for Sensible Growth. "Is that to appease us to a point that he knows what's going on? I don't believe he does."

Curtis said people on Lanai deserve to be informed before Ellison is given the key to the island.

"There are a lot of things that can happen with this and there's scant detail about what's going on. There's a lot of secrecy," he said.

Ono said interim approval of the transfer of the utilities isn't a rubber stamp.

"The Consumer Advocate nor the Public Utilities Commission has waived any rights to do a complete review of that transfer before final approval" he said.

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