Span and Opposition to HECO’s 138kV Line on Wa’ahila Ridge

Photo of ridge

Safe Power Action Network (SPAN) was the vehicle used from 1997-99 to bring together groups who were concerned about the proposed 138kV line on Wa’ahila Ridge. Malama received funding from three foundations: Gerbode, Cooke and Atherton, to hire a SPAN coordinator to help educate the public about the negative effects of this project. In addition, a Preservation Services Fund grant from National Trust for Historic Preservation helped pay for a professional photographer to do computer visualizations to show how the proposed lines would look. In 1997 the National Trust selected Wa’ahila Ridge for their “11 Most Endangered…” list.

In 1998 a press conference in front of the PUC Office, and a rally in front of the State Capitol helped to bring public attention to the issue. SPAN sponsored two community briefings at Ala Wai School in June. Malama volunteers collected thousands of comments on postcards, which were submitted along with over 100 extensive comments from concerned citizens and groups during the 45-day draft EIS public comment period. The final EIS was rejected by the DLNR in January 1999, requiring HECO to resubmit a draft EIS. The revised final EIS was accepted by DLNR Chair, Timothy Johns in 2000 with many concerns expressed in a 29-page letter.

In 1999 Malama co-sponsored an “Empowering The Community” conference with the UH Department of Urban and Regional Planning and SPAN on August 28, 1999. The keynote speaker at this event was Professor Lawrence Susskind, an internationally acclaimed environmental and public dispute mediator.

In 2001 Malama organized a Petition Campaign in preparation for the Conservation District Use Application (CDUA) Public Hearing held on March 22 at the State Capitol. Public awareness of this issue was heightened with notices in both major newspapers. By summer over 10,000 petitions opposed to the project had been collected. November 1 Malama joined with Life of the Land and The Outdoor Circle in a CDUA Contested Case Hearing. Corey Park and Pam Bunn, attorneys from Paul, Johnson, Park and Niles represented Malama before the Judge. The final decision on whether to DENY or grant HECO’s request to build the transmission line on Wa’ahila Ridge which is in a Conservation Zone was made by the seven members of the Board of Land and Natural Resources. They voted to DENY the permit in June 2002 and the pristine viewplane of Wa’ahila Ridge was preserved.