HART’s board of directors discusses rail power

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s Board of Directors discussed rail power during a meeting Tuesday.

It’s an issue Always Investigating has been tracking since November 2014.

Questions were raised as to why photovoltaic systems were not incorporated into the original design of rail’s operating center.

“It actually went through a few iterations, so at one point, there was green roofs and those were removed because of the maintenance cost associated with green roofs,” said Aki Marceau, HART Land Use and Sustainability Manager. “I’m not saying that the industry isn’t ready for that in Hawaii right now, but it’s just a little bit more challenging when it comes to maintaining green roofs in the long-term, and in lieu of green roofs we added PVs at one point and those were removed again.”

“There’s issues within our design, issues within the station, etc. If there’s places where we could make even capital investments today for significant savings in the future, those are good conversations to have,” said HART Board Chair Don Horner. “One, it’s the right thing to do from a green perspective, but equally important from the taxpayers’ operating cost as we go forward, it’s the right thing to do to reduce our overall operating cost in the future.”

Environmentalists were concerned about what it would take to power rail.

“Our island isn’t going bankrupt building this system. No one is beating their chest saying we can’t afford it. It’s the operations and maintenance that we’re worried about,” said Anthony Aalto, Sierra Club Oahu group chair. “First, the question would be, are we being as creative as we can? Are we looking as far afield as we can? Should HECO be thinking about building a micro roof for example? Should we be thinking about putting PV all along the guideway?”

“Rather than trying for us to be the one to generate all the power, (HECO) is a utility, so we should build through the PUC a way where our train is operating off ‘sun power,'” said Horner, “and that would be something I think we would welcome a conversation with. And it’s not too late, if you will, because we’re talking three years down the line and we can work toward that goal.”

Also discussed Tuesday was the recently added plan to build a parking garage at Pearl Highlands Center.

HART says it is pursuing a public-private partnership to fund that building.

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