The June 14 article about Maui County’s powerful letter to the Public Utilities Commission – and the county’s decision to intervene in Hawaiian Electric Co.’s request to be reimbursed by ratepayers to the tune of $4 million – contained a number of inaccuracies.
The article identifies two organizations that were denied intervention by the PUC: Life of the Land and Lanaians for Sensible Growth. That is incorrect. The two parties denied intervener status were Friends of Lana’i and Life of the Land.
The article states that the Big Wind project will likely have an enormous impact on Lanai and possibly Molokai. True enough, but one look at the state’s project maps (www.hirep-wind.com/documents/EISPN_PROJECT_AREA_22NOV2010.pdf) confirms for all Maui residents that the state plans to run a cable to/from Maui as well. And First Wind Hawaii, the developer that was unsuccessful in its attempt to develop a wind power plant on Molokai, stated in an April 26 Pacific Business News article that it has now turned its sights to Maui, suggesting that “Maui be included in the interisland cable project.”
The June 14 article’s comments about the deal struck between Castle & Cooke and Pattern Energy also requires clarification
The Public Utilities Commission has rejected a request by First Wind LLC for more time to submit a document outlining its plans for a proposed wind energy project on Molokai.
First Wind had sought an eight-month extension past a March 18 deadline to file a “term sheet” that would have served as a precursor to an potential agreement with Hawaiian Electric Co., to buy power from the proposed 200-megawatt project. However, First Wind missed the deadline because it was not able to reach agreement with land owner Molokai Ranch on a potential site for the wind turbine project.
In a letter dated April 29 the PUC told First Wind that the wind energy company was not authorized to request an extension because it was not an official party in the proceedings. The PUC said such an extension request would have to be filed by HECO, which is a party in the case. However, HECO previously said it would not file for an extension on First Wind’s behalf.
After First Wind missed the March 18 deadline Molokai Ranch announced that it had begun talks with a new developer, Pattern Energy Group, on building the Molokai wind energy project.
A community group that opposes the development of large-scale wind farms on Lanai and Molokai is asking state regulators to reopen the bidding process for the projects, saying the original agreement is no longer valid because one of the developers dropped out.
An attorney for Friends of Lanai said a decision by First Wind LLC not to pursue the Molokai portion of the proposed project triggered a series of events that were not authorized under the original approval granted by the Public Utilities Commission last fall.
First Wind withdrew from the project after missing a key March 18 deadline set by the PUC to show that it was making progress on its planned 200-megawatt Molokai wind project. Castle & Cooke Resorts, which is pursuing a 200-megawatt wind project on Lanai, met the deadline. The two projects, dubbed “Big Wind,” would transmit electricity to Oahu via an undersea cable under a plan that is still in the preliminary stages.
Friends of Lanai attorney Isaac Hall noted that the PUC had to grant a waiver for the Big Wind project to proceed because its proposed size exceeded Hawaiian Electric Co.’s original request for proposals of up to 100 megawatts of renewable energy.
“Since only one party timely complied (with the PUC deadline), Friends of Lanai believes that the waiver is no longer valid
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.
Pattern Energy Group is expected to “engage all of the community”
Molokai Properties Ltd. said it is teaming up with a new company to develop a proposed wind energy project on the island after it was unable to come to terms with its previous partner, First Wind LLC.
MPL joined forces with San Francisco-based Pattern Energy Group on the project that, as envisioned, would transmit wind-generated electricity to Oahu via an undersea cable. The project, with 90 wind turbines and a generating capacity of 200 megawatts, represents half of the so-called Big Wind project that would include the transmission of an equal amount of wind energy from Lanai to Oahu.
Executives from Pattern and Molokai Properties held three community meetings in early March to brief the community on the proposal, said Peter Nicholas, MPL’s chief executive officer. Nicholas said he hoped Pattern’s plan would be better received by the community than what had been proposed by First Wind.
MPL broke off talks with First Wind in November following two rounds of negotiations in which the two sides were unable to reach agreement on a land price and the approach to community involvement. MPL, which also does business as Molokai Ranch, owns 60,000 acres on Molokai, or about 40 percent of the island.
On January 26, a mixed segment of the community attended a meeting called Hawaiians Ku`e. The pitch was to honor our kuleana (responsibility). There was also an introduction of state sanctioned governance called Aha Moku/Aha Kiole. In essence, it’s about community districts, from east to west Molokai, maintaining the natural resources of their areas by using a mix of ancient Hawaiian and modern practices. It is a good start to have this practice in our community (more fish, ophi, limu, native plants, water resources, etc.) and if successful, may become a model for the rest of state.
Next was a dialog about windmills and getting off the dependency of oil from the Mid-East. Lanai is a done deal and the plan is to build windmills. Some people in this state have said Molokai is also going to be a done deal and the 410 ft. towers are going to be put on the west end. Absent from the meeting was dialog from the land owner (Molokai Ranch) and the residents of the west end. This issue must be pono with Molokai’s people and environment to succeed.
Questions: What will Molokai get if windmills are built here? Who will be the go-to people? What will be the short, medium, and long term effect to Molokai’s people and environment? Who owns the underwater cable? Whose responsibility and liability is the cable? Remember the oil rig in the gulf – catastrophic.
There are various opinions and with honest dialog at the table, I’m sure Molokai people can come up with the right solutions. Maybe start with a solar farm in Pala`au next to Maui Electric to lower Molokai’s oil dependency first? Is a solar farm at Pala`au and Kalamaula less intrusive?
If the state was really serious about alternative energy, how about partnering with the federal government, military and all John Does to put those wind monsters on Kaho`olawe where wind and land is plentiful and there is no infringement on homeowners. Since the cable is already intended for Lanai, Kahoolawe is a doorstep away. Revenue can benefit all of Hawaii. Some might argue that Kahoolawe is rich with historic and cultural significance – I agree. But are they saying that Molokai and Lanai are less historical and culturally significant?
Drought is a farmer’s worst nightmare. But imagine the few plants that make it through the summer are then eaten by something other than your family or customers.
On top of a dry summer, the Molokai agriculture community is facing a deer problem – lack of water and food in their usual habitat has driven deer into the fields for nourishment at the farmer’s expense.
“The problem is there’s not a whole lot you can do about it,” said Rick Tamanaha, owner of Kaleikoa Farms in Ho`olehua. “They’ve actually stopped me from planting for 2010. They’ve shut me down.”
Tamanaha said he will be installing an electric fence to ward off the deer. This is one of many problems that come with farming that he prepares for.
“If it’s not deer it’s going to be something else,” he added. “You take the good years, and you [have] to take the bad years.”
The number of deer heading into farms and people’s gardens may be disturbing, but the problem isn’t overpopulation, according to a few hunters familiar with the west end. A contractor for the Molokai Ranch said at last count two years ago, there were 8,000 deer on the west end.
The dry summer has caused the worst deer pressure for many farmers in recent memory.
“All these years, we’ve never had a deer problem,” said Grant Schule, owner of Kumu Farms. His plan of attack: “We’re just kind of moving crops around…basically we’re running from them.”