Castle & Cooke said it has transfered a portion of its wind development authority to a mainland company that is proposing to build a large-scale wind energy project on Molokai.
The agreement would allow Pattern Energy Group to develop up to 200 megawatts of wind power on Molokai in tandem with 200 megawatts Castle & Cooke is proposing for Lanai. Under the plan wind energy from both projects would be transmitted to Oahu via an undersea cable.
Castle & Cooke initially received approval to develop a full 400 megawatts of wind power on Lanai alone. The agreement was later amended to split the 400 megawatts evenly between Lanai and Molokai. Under that deal Castle & Cooke was to develop 200 megawatts on Lanai with Boston-based First Wind LLC pursuing 200 megawatts on Molokai.
However, First Wind was unable to reach an agreement with landowner Molokai Ranch to buy or lease land for its project. First Wind also missed a deadline set by the Public Utilities Commission to advance its proposal. That opened the door for San Francisco-based Pattern to pursue the Molokai part of the so-called “Big Wind” project.
Pattern said it has been identified by Molokai Ranch as the preferred developer should the project move forward. The project has met with community opposition on Molokai.
Castle & Cooke said the agreement announced over the weekend would allow it to allocate to Pattern a part of the authority it received in 2008 to develop 400 megawatts of wind energy and sell it to Hawaiian Electric Co.
“Ultimately our goal is to find a solution that serves the best long-term interests of all of the residents of the state of Hawaii and helps the state achieve its clean energy goals,” said Harry Saunders, president of Castle & Cooke Hawaii.
“We are very pleased that we will be able to work with one of he leading wind energy producers in the world to help reduce Hawaii’s dependence on foreign oil,” he said.