BY BUCK QUAYLE
Maui Conservation Fight
Maui Electric Co. has been given an initial go-ahead to install diesel generators and a gas turbine near Kealia Pond to meet immediate power needs on the island of Maui.
However, the company's request to install steam generation units was denied by the County Planning Commission last week.
The recomendation by the planning commission appears to represent a victory for Maui conservationists, who have warned of possible ecological dangers from a steam generation plant.
The Maui Electric Co. request for a special land use permit-which would allow the company to construct a power plant near Kealia Pond-is on the agenda of the next meeting of the State Land Use Commission, scheduled for the Kahului Library this Friday (July 16) at 10 a.m.
Maui Electric may, however, resubmit its proposal for the steam units within the next four years if the company feels it can prove-through extensive environmental studies-that such an installation will not harm the area.
The final decision on Maui Electric's request for a special use permit must be made by the State Land Use Commission. The request is on the agenda of a Land Use Commission meeting scheduled for the Kahului Library at 10 a.m. this Friday (July 16), where the Maui conservation fight is expected to continue.
Planning Director Howard Nakamura emphasized in a staff report presented to the commission that approval of the diesel units "in no way constitutes a commitment for subsequent approval of a steam plant."
The report said problems that could be caused by the steam plant would not necessarily be caused by the smaller and cleaner diesel generator units.
Nakamura said any planning commission action on a steam plant should be delayed until more studies can be carried out on the nature of aquatic life in Maalaea Bay, possible effect of heated water from the power plant on sea life, possible adverse adfects on birds at Kealia Pond, and the function of the pond as a sedimentation basin.
The Maui conservation fight raised many questions. He said more information is needed on the cost of locating the plant elsewhere. Maui citizens, he said, might be willing to pay for protecting or creating a more desirable environment.
The planning commission approved the use of diesel and gas turbine generators at the site between Maalaea and Kihei, subject to several conditions:
That transmission lines be kept out of sight as much as possible and not be located along the shoreline or along Kihei Road.
That a minimum of grading be done on the site.
That use of the site be established within four years from the date of final approval, and that further construction be prohibited if an alternate site is developed for a major generating facility.
That final plans be submitted to the planning commission for approval.
The commission also required Maui Electric to present all of its subsequent environmental data to the office of Environmental Quality Control of the State of Hawaii for review and evaluation.
Commission Chairman Zuke Matsui suggested that any consulting firm hired by Maui Electric to conduct environmental studies should be approved by the Planning Dept. and the State Office of Environmental Control to insure a "neutral" report.
Commission Member Kazuo Kage disagreed, saying he felt the government should not have such "very dangerous" power.
Frank Montgomery of Hawaiian Electric proposed the commission approve a list of consultants from which the electric company could select one to conduct studies. The commission approved the request.
Buck Quayle at the Maui Lahaina Sun bureau circa 1970
Reporter/Photographer Buck Quayle in 1971 in Maui with the Cartagenian in the background
Another Day At The Office Haleakala National Park