On Friday, October 28, Civil Beat did a “Fact Check” on former Governor Lingle and the Superferry. Among its conclusions was that she had in fact signed special legislation into law that favored a single private company.

On October 24, James Koshiba, Executive Director of Kanu Hawaii, published a passionate plea in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser urging us all to break the iron-clad grip private interests have over setting public policy here in Hawaii.

And over the past few weeks we have all been riveted by our very own American uprising against corporate greed and the insidious hold corporate America has over most facets of all our lives.

It should come as no surprise then, that share-holder-owned Hawaiian Electric (HECO) and privately-held Castle and Cooke (C&C) last week attempted to manipulate Hawaii’s search for more renewable power generation (not the 70% of fossil used for transportation but the 30% used for electricity) to suit their own corporate needs and wants.

In July, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) denied C&C and HECO’s attempt to give away 50% of its megawatt allocation for Big Wind to Pattern Energy for a Moloka’i wind power plant. The PUC responded to that attempted sleight-of-hand with an unequivocal “NO,” and instead required HECO and C&C to follow the law and the competitive bidding framework by preparing a Request for Proposal (RFP) that would solicit 200 MW or more of renewable energy from any island — including O’ahu — that could reasonably serve O’ahu.

HECO’s response to the PUC order was released on October 14th, and it is a masterpiece of corporate chicanery.

First, it gives potential bidders ONLY UNTIL NOVEMBER 4TH to submit notice of intent to bid.  This means they are required to file notice well before the PUC reviews, revises, and accepts a final RFP for release.  If they do not comply by the end of the week, they will not be permitted to submit a bid later in the process.  Period.  And this is for projects that HECO indicates are not anticipated to achieve commercial operations until 2018.  

This indicates to many of us that HECO has already determined with whom it will work. Clearly the front runner is Castle and Cooke, with its proposed 200+MW industrial wind power plant on the island of Lana`i. Despite the fact that not a single permit has even been applied for, HECO apparently considers the Lāna‛i wind power plant a done deal.

Second, the draft RFP requires ANY cable provider who submits a bid to also include – this is NOT optional — a bid for an undersea cable from Lāna‛i to Oahu.  So for example, if you were a potential bidder seeking to provide geothermal power to O'ahu via an undersea cable, or you were a potential bidder wanting to bid on a stand-alone undersea cable that could be matched with an energy source off-Oahu, you would be REQUIRED to include in your bid — a cable from Lāna‛i to O’ahu.  We on Lana`i are now referred to as the “Lāna‛i Spur.” 

Third, and perhaps the most troubling, any potential undersea cable bidder is required by the terms of the RFP to try and work with Castle & Cooke (C&C) to secure mutual agreements for the required Lāna’i connection as a condition of bidding. This essentially gives C&C unfair advantage in the selection of off-O’ahu renewable energy options, before a single bid is submitted.

We do not believe that this is an open or fair process, designed to invite a variety of potential solutions to Hawaii’s energy challenges, as the PUC intended.

But it does appear to be “business as usual” in Hawaii.

About the author: Robin Kaye contributed this article for Friends of Lāna‛i.