WAILUKU – The Maui Planning Commission unanimously approved permits Tuesday for Auwahi Wind Energy to build and operate eight 428-foot-tall wind turbines on Ulupalakua Ranch land.
Two dozen people testified on the proposed special use and special management area permits, and none were opposed to the project, according to planner Ann Cua. Some testifiers shared concerns about traffic, safety and visual impacts of the wind farm.
The project would have the capacity to generate 21 megawatts, which would be enough power to supply electricity to 10,000 homes. The $140 million project’s infrastructure includes an energy storage system; a 9-mile, 34.5-kilovolt power line; an interconnection substation; a microwave communication tower; and a construction access road. Each generator pad would require about 2.4 acres of cleared area, while the entire project would cover 1,466 acres, almost entirely on Ulupalakua Ranch land.
The project aims to provide power for Maui island only. It is not part of the “Big Wind” project, which calls for wind farms on Lanai and Molokai to provide power to Oahu via an underwater cable.
Commission members attached conditions to Auwahi’s permits, including one that requires Auwahi Wind, a division of Sempra, to work with the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and Ka Ohana O Kahikinui Inc. to develop a community benefits package. The groups would develop a plan and sign a memorandum of agreement addressing the roadway improvement and other needs of the Kahikinui homestead community.
The project area contains more than 1,100 archaeological features on 174 sites, and the developer has designed the turbines and power lines to avoid culturally sensitive burials and heiau.
By Rep. Mele Carroll
This session I introduced House Bill 1483, which directs the Department of Agriculture (DOA) to provide water to Molokai Irrigation System users who lease tracts of land at a reduced rate. It also requires the DOA to forgive past due water bills for the provision of irrigation water for Molokai homestead farmers.
With this challenging economy, the hardship of our Molokai homestead farmers is real and I feel that we need to provide some relief to our farmers so they can continue to economically survive during these most trying times.
House Bill 1483 was advanced by the Committee on Hawaiian Affairs on Feb. 4, and will now advance to Joint House Committees on Agriculture and Water, Land & Ocean Resources for consideration.
The Molokai Irrigation Ditch was created for the homesteaders to be used for agricultural purposes, per an agreement made between the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, the homesteaders and the Department of Water Supply. That agreement called for sufficient water be given to the homestead farmers to be used for their farming. As the years have progressed, the federal mandate that homesteaders be given two-thirds of the water allotment has seemingly lost its strength or forgotten altogether.
Habitat Completes First ‘Off-The-Grid’ Home
Molokai Habitat for Humanity News Release
With the help from Hawaii’s leading residential solar company, RevoluSun, Molokai Habitat for Humanity is pleased to announce the dedication and blessing of its 19th completed home for the Kaai `Ohana. This will be Hawaii Habitat’s first “off-grid” home on Hawaiian Home Lands, as well as the first home built by Molokai Habitat with a renewable energy system.
“We are so excited because this is the first home for Habitat for Humanity nationally that is off-the-grid,” said Emillia Noordhoek, Resource Development Director for Molokai Habitat. “Molokai has the highest cost of living in the state and we are one of the most isolated islands. We wanted to build a home that would be affordable for the family and be best for our ‘aina.”
The journey to this projects completion was one of sweat, love, commitment, and of course, genuine hard work. The high cost to install the house’s electrical infrastructure – quoted by MECO at $30,000 – led to the opportunity of using renewable energy.
It was then that Molokai Habitat realized this was the opportunity they needed to build a simple, decent, and affordable home which included its own renewable energy. How can housing be affordable to the homeowner if the hidden cost of utilities is $300-$500 per month? The blessing and answer to this question came through Oahu’s Solar Contractor RevoluSun.
RevoluSun generously donated their time and labor for the design and installation of the solar system.