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and Molokai is asking state regulators to reopen the bidding process for the projects, saying the original agreement is no longer valid because one of the developers dropped out.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“Since only one party timely complied (with the PUC deadline), Friends of Lanai believes that the waiver is no longer valid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.
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.
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?
LANAI CITY – Lanai residents turned out Saturday to express strong opposition to bringing “big wind” to their island for the benefit of Oahu consumers.
Testifiers expressed concern about how a proposed wind farm by Castle & Cooke could impact the environment, cultural sites, hunting access and scenic views if it were allowed to proceed on up to 12,800 acres on the northwestern end of the island. While state and federal officials said their purpose was to gather comments on a big-picture plan for an interisland wind system, without focusing on any one specific project, Lanai residents said it was impossible to comment on the impacts of the larger plan without scrutinizing Castle & Cooke’s proposal.
“I’m very troubled by this whole concept,” said Lanai City resident Robin Kaye. “How can you have this cumulative study without looking at the specific impacts?”
The U.S. Department of Energy and the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism hosted the scoping meeting Saturday in the Lanai High and Elementary School cafeteria.
It followed similar meetings on Maui and Molokai earlier in the week.
Wind farm proposal for Lanai, Molokai draws fire
By HARRY EAGAR, Staff Writer
KAHULUI – It was supposed to be a “scoping” meeting to get an idea of what questions need to be answered about the environmental impact of an enormous wind power project, but a good many of the 20 testifiers Wednesday had already decided they had the answer: not here in Maui County for the benefit of Oahu.
Others were less final but quite skeptical, and only a single testifier, Sean Lester, was squarely in favor of the proposed Hawaii Interisland Renewable Energy Program. He called it “visionary.”
The meeting at Pomaikai Elementary School attracted about 50 people, and other meetings either have been held or will soon be held on every island involved: Oahu, Maui, Molokai and Lanai.
A common complaint was that the documents so far released are unspecific. Tony Como of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability said that was the nature of a “programmatic” environmental impact statement. These are “somewhat unique in Hawaii” but familiar in federal projects.
Its purpose, he said, is to cover broadly the implications of the state’s policy of moving to 70 percent renewable energy by 2030. Once the broad picture is available, a second, site-specific environmental impact statement would be initiated.
The deadline for the first part of the process is April 2012, because the project is counting on American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds that expire
The last Hawaiian monarch, Queen Lili`uokalani said to her people, “oni pa`a” – stand strong. Last week, around 100 Molokai residents did just that.
The meeting, called Hawaiians Ku`e, called for a return to traditional Hawaiian protocol and a Hawaiian voice to the table when it comes to resource management within the state and county.
“It’s hard to participate when don’t know what you’re participating in,” said Walter Ritte, one of the meeting’s organizers. “We don’t want to participate in [a] haole process.”
The meeting began with `oli kahea, where those invited to speak – Hawaiian or not – asked for permission to enter. This is a simple practice which allowed ancient Hawaiians to coexist in limited spaces, said Ritte.
“Protocol very important if we are to survive on the island of Molokai,” Ritte said. “Us Hawaiians …cannot, will not survive without natural resources.”
Natural resources they hope to protect – such as agricultural land proposed to be used as a wind farm.
The Wind Farm Issue
Representatives from the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) as well as wind energy company First Wind shared potential benefits of building a wind farm on Molokai.
Malama Minn of DBEDT said she understood Oahu is a huge load, but because entire state is energy inefficient and oil dependent, residents throughout the state must help each other out.
However, many in the audience didn’t agree
KAHULUI – Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines’ M/V Jean Anne will begin shipping vehicles interisland Feb. 15.
The Jean Anne calls at Kahului every two weeks.
Since 2005, Pasha has shipped vehicles and heavy equipment between San Diego and Hawaii ports. Recently it obtained Public Utilities Commission authority to move vehicles between island ports.
It calls at Kahului, Hilo and Honolulu.
The PUC ruling has been controversial, with critics saying it gave Pasha an unfair advantage over interisland shipper Young Brothers Ltd. because the ruling allowed Pasha to skip over the islands of Molokai and Lanai because its ship is too big to enter those harbors.
Young Brothers is required by the PUC to make stops at those small, unprofitable ports.