Articles filed under General from Hawaii
Henry Curtis of Life of the Land said customers should not be forced to finance the studies, because past rulings by the PUC clearly ordered HECO to evaluate alternatives to the massive wind-power project.
Opposition to the project was intensified because Molokai Ranch, which has a history of tension with the community, was supporting Pattern Energy. "Personally, I don't think this project will go forward if Molokai Ranch has any part of it," Karen Holt, executive director of the Molokai Community Service Council, told PBN.
The Public Utilities Commission has approved a power purchase agreement that will allow Sempra Generation to begin selling wind-generated power to Maui Electric Co. perhaps as soon as early 2013. MECO will initially pay 20 cents per kilowatt hour.
"It is time for open discussion and debate in the community on the benefits and the overall question of whether expenses associated with the Big Wind project are reasonable," McLeod wrote. "We ask guidance from the PUC on where you would like to see this discussion occur." The mayor's office followed up the three-page letter with a request on June 6 to intervene in a PUC case.
First Wind officials said they were not able to find a site to locate a proposed 200-megawatt wind farm on Molokai, because the island's major landowner, Molokai Ranch, refused to negotiate with them.
The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission has denied a petition from the nonprofit Friends of Lanai that sought to intervene in the proceedings involving the Big Wind project.
"Critical decisions about the size, scope, location and nature of the wind farms are being made in dockets opened before the Public Utilities Commission based upon documents that are hidden, by protective orders, from nonparties before any Environmental Impact Statement is prepared in violation of the law."
As Pattern Energy begins taking action on Molokai to develop a wind farm, two groups are denouncing the Big Wind project, and calling for the neighbor island bidding process to start from scratch.
Removing turbines from the inactive Kamaoa wind farm would cost an estimated $1 million. Decommissioning plans are becoming common practice for new wind farms, but there is no state statute mandating what must be done after the project is no longer in use.
In a recent letter to the state Public Utilities Commission, Gaynor described the agreement between Castle & Cooke and Pattern Energy as being in direct violation of the original agreement between Hawaiian Electric Co., Castle & Cooke and First Wind, in addition to going against stipulations included in the PUC's original order approving the agreement.
The project faces stiff opposition from Lanai and Molokai residents, who argue the large wind farms will destroy their islands' remote character, breathtaking vistas, hunting grounds and sacred native Hawaiian sites. Opponents also say the two islands should not have to shoulder the project's most significant impacts while the clean energy is enjoyed by cosmopolitan Oahu.
If the owner of Molokai Ranch tries to stand in the way of a proposed 200-megawatt wind farm on Molokai, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said the state is willing to confiscate the land needed for the project.
First Wind missed the deadline, citing its inability to secure land for the wind project. First Wind, which is not an official party in the case before the PUC, asked HECO to petition the commission for a deadline extension on its behalf. When HECO declined, First Wind appealed directly to the PUC.
First Wind, the developer for a proposed 200-megawatt wind farm on Molokai, missed the March 18 deadline to show the Public Utilities Commission that they had secured the land needed for the project..
Some South Maui residents are upset about a developer's plan to use a resort road through Wailea and Makena for construction truck access as it builds a wind farm on 120 acres of Ulupalakua Ranch land.
But the prospect of hosting a fleet of enormous wind turbines along coastal areas on the state's most rural islands -- that's not abstract. Additionally, each island in the archipelago has its own identity. That sense of separatism does not enhance a proposal, with an estimated $1 billion cost, that would pepper Molokai and Lanai with windmills and then pipe the electricity along undersea cables to satisfy Oahu's ravenous energy appetites.
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.
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.
"It's really an opportunity for the public to come and tell us what it is they want us to look at in the EIS," said Allen Kam, with the State Energy Office. Those worried undersea cables could affect important fishing areas or wind turbines would upset the view have 30 days to let the state know about those specific concerns. That information will be factored into a draft EIS.
Walter Rittie, a longtime activist on Molokai, says that for native Hawaiians like himself, the wind is a revered god. "So until the state realizes what they're dealing with, that it's not a commodity, it's a cultural resource that Hawaiians have high regard for, part of our heritage, then we're in for a train wreck here," Rittie says.