Categorized | News, Sci-Tech, Space

State senate amends bill for satellite launch facility after opposition from Ka‘u residents


HONOLULU, Hawai‘i – The Senate Committee on Ways and Means (WAM) amended the language for a Special Purpose Revenue Bond (SPRB) to assist SpinLaunch, Inc.with the construction of a satellite launch system in HB2559 so it is no longer site specific. The bill initially recommended SpinLaunch, Inc. would construct a satellite launch system on the Island of Hawai‘i. At a hearing on March 29, the WAM Committee changed the measure to allow for the construction of a launch facility “in an unspecified area in Hawai‘i.”

Senator Glenn Wakai (Dist. 15 – Kalihi, Mapunapuna, Airport, Salt Lake, Aliamanu, Foster Village, Hickam, Pearl Harbor), who introduced the Senate companion bill said, “I heard from the people in Ka‘u. I don’t want to give residents the impression that any future launch site was destined for their neighborhood.”

SpinLaunch, Inc., a technology company in San Jose, California, proposes to build a small satellite launch site in Hawai‘i. They were initially looking at a spot around Pohue Bay in the Ka‘u District of Hawai‘i Island. That interest was met with strong opposition.

Sen. Wakai, Chair of the Committee on Economic Development, Tourism, and Technology, has encouraged SpinLaunch to respect the wishes of the community and to look at other sites around the state. “I sincerely apologize for alarming the people of Ka‘u,” said Sen. Wakai, “I still believe Hawai‘i can play a role in the global aerospace industry, but not at Pohue Bay.”

Sen. Wakai will be joining Moku O Keawe Aha Moku O Ka’u in a community meeting on April 14, 2018 at 10:00 at the Na’alehu Community Center to discuss the intent of the bill.

A special purpose revenue bond is a bond authorized by the Hawai‘i Legislature to assist a business to build a project in the public interest. The bonds do not use any public funds and the state is not liable to pay back the debt. SPRBs are not grants or subsidies, and do not place the state’s credit at risk. This is a financing option to allow a business to get a lower interest rate. SPRBs are sold to private investors in exchange for tax-exempt interest payments.

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