The Maui News - The state plans to build a $1.3 million hydroelectric power plant on Molokai to help defray the energy costs tied to pumping water from Waikolu Valley for its irrigation system.
A turbine generator would be installed on Molokai Ranch land, alongside the existing 25-mile-long Molokai irrigation system, which is owned and managed by the state Department of Agriculture.
The department recently submitted a draft environmental assessment for the project, and expects a finding of no significant impact. Members of the public have until Aug. 22 to comment on the report.
"The proposed project would complement the existing irrigation systems and would not adversely impact deliveries of water for irrigation," the report stated.
The draft document says there are no residences, farming operations or businesses within a two-mile radius of the project site.
The project is expected to lower the department's electric bill for operating the irrigation system and could generate revenue if any surplus energy is sold to Maui Electric Company. A cost-savings estimate was not immediately available.
Janelle Saneishi, spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture, said that the project is still in the competitive bidding process.
Construction work is scheduled to begin in January and is expected to take about a year.