A kukakuka for the issue of placing a wind farm on Molokai will take place tonight at 6 p.m. at the Mitchell Pau’ole Center. A public scoping meeting on this issue will be held on Molokai Feb. 3 as part of the Environmental Impact Statement for the undersea power transmission cable between Oahu and Maui and Molokai and Lanai.
By Steve Morgan
Of the many winds that characterize the island of Molokai, one in particular seems to be making the news. Recognized as “Kumumaomao,” which I have always understood to mean “the source of green,” it is this wind that receives the clouds that travel from Kamakou, bringing moisture to Maunaloa and the upper hills of Kaluakoi. It is a wind that I have come to know well, at times being in gratitude for the rain she brings and at other times cowering from the ferocity of this wind when she rages at 50 or 60 miles an hour.
The billion dollar question now is not whether or not Kumumaomao will be the source of green grass for our island, but instead will this wind be a source of green energy and possibly a source of green profits for those who hope to invest in this wind.
In my own opinion, the obstacles in place at this time seem to cast doubt upon the reality of this project. One of these obstacles is the general feeling of skepticism that many on our island feel. Some of this skepticism is the fruit of urban legends, yet some of this skepticism is easily justified. After years of talk, there still is no land secured, and the community really has no clear idea as to how this project might really improve the quality of life on Molokai.
At the Jan 11 Senate hearing, Wren Wescoatt of First Wind acknowledged that it would be up to the community to make its request known for a “community benefits package.” This is a bit perplexing, with such a fragmented process, how do we go about doing this? And when MCSC was working with First Wind, wasn’t a list of community benefits already recognized? Are those potential benefits no longer acknowledged by First Wind?
Following Mr. Wescoatt’s comment, he also mentioned that what would be offered to our island might be something like what Lanai is being offered. While my intention is not to villainize First Wind, the apparent contrast between what was previously being offered to Molokai by First Wind and what is now being offered to Lanai is like the difference between a bag of chips and a full buffet.
Two facts are hard to ignore — Guoco is playing hardball with land sales and First Wind is scrambling to pay off some of its $500 million in debt, so is it possible that community perks are the first to go?
And without any resolution of these critical issues, we now find ourselves in the midst of an EIS involving the installation of the underwater transmission cable to our island. So what’s next? Maybe the EIS meeting on Feb. 3 will offer a few answers … maybe.