HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An undersea electrical cable between Maui and Oahu will save consumers more than $420 million over 30 years, a state official said.
But critics said that consumers will bear most of the upfront costs.
The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday held a public meeting on the new cable proposal at Farrington High School.
The new $640 million cable replaces a controversial plan to link Oahu to massive wind farms on Lanai.
The new plan aims to join Oahu and Maui into a single-grid, allowing utilities to harness more energy from wind and solar farms while creating making the system more efficient.
"The net of that provides savings to the rate payers just by combining the grids," said State Energy Administrator Mark Glick.
Activist Henry Curtis believes that state's estimated cost of about $640 million isn't credible because it comes from potential developers.
"If you're a developer and somebody said come up with a dream package for putting in something that's going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, of course, the developer is going to say it makes sense and let's do it," said Curtis, executive director of Life of the Land.
Curtis said he's also concerned about the environment since the path of the cable runs near the whale sanctuary at Penguin Banks.
"It does impact threatened and endangered species that exist within the channel," he said.
But the state sees little impact.
"We're not aware of anything that is a significant environmental problem," Glick said.
The PUC will hold another public meeting Thursday on Maui.