VIDEO: Maui Mayor Eyes Energy Potential

August 29, 2011, 5:55 PM HST · Updated August 30, 7:10 AM
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By Wendy Osher

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa is eying the energy potential of Maui, with plans for a conscious shift away from traditional power consumption.

“We’re on a mission to get to 100% reuse, and we’re starting it off here in Maui County by looking at what we can do immediately,” said Mayor Arakawa.

The mayor’s office has already issued Requests For Proposals (RFPs) for the Landfill Gas Utilization Project in Pu’unene, and the Rooftop Conversion to Solar Power at 25 county buildings.

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The county began the RFP process last weekend for the Central Maui Landfill Gas project, seeking a qualified developer to turn the methane gas generated at the facility into electricity, instead of burning the product.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa. Photo by Wendy Osher.

“It seemed like such a waste of good potential electricity,” said Mayor Arakawa of the current process.  The mayor said he hopes to have electric power created at the facility within a year, and attain monetary savings in  excess of several hundred thousand dollars.

“This is an initiative whose time has come,” said Mayor Arakawa.  “The talk–that phase is gone already–and actual production is what we’re looking at,” he said.

Mayor Arakawa said his administration is making a big push towards alternative energy.

He said plans call for the incorporation of alternative energy systems such as the gasification, bio-mass, wind and solar power projects into the Hawaiian Electric system.

Mayor Arakawa said, in the long run, there will be a greater dependence on geothermal and ocean-thermal as the major producers of electricity in the state.

“Geothermal is the least costly and can produce a lot of power; ocean-thermal is the least developed of all the sciences at this point, so it’s the least accessible, but in terms of power potential, it has the highest potential.  It’s also costlier because of the corrosive action and the ocean activity will tend to wear and tear on the equipment,” said Mayor Arakawa.

Mayor Arakawa said the state is going to have to find more ways of becoming self-sufficient.

“We can not be constantly at the mercy of foreign entities and fuel prices that fluctuate very wildly, while our citizens are having to pay huge amounts for their basic living capabilities,” said Arakawa.

“Alternative energy is one of the things that we absolutely must do,” he said.

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