By Steve Morgan
To The Molokai News readers: Coincidentally, I already wrote this before Robin Kaye’s article was submitted.
Unlike Molokai, land on Lanai has already been designated for the purpose of the wind farm. As a result, the process on Lanai has progressed further than that on our island. Referencing Lanai issues will hopefully help us in making evaluations for our own island.
How much land will the Lanai wind farm require?
According to Castle and Cooke, the maximum amount of land that will be used is 12,800 acres.
What benefits are being offered to the people of Lanai in return for the construction of a wind farm on their island?
Based on the Jan. 11 presentation given by Harry Saunders of Castle and Cook, a basic summary of the combined benefits being offered to the Lanai community are as follows:
• Make Lanai utility rates the same as Oahu rates
• Make Lanai electric grid 100 percent green by 2020
• Maintain public access for hunting and fishing
• Infuse money into weakened tourist industry in order to maintain jobs
• Improve existing water infrastructure including $500,000 annual investment for improvements
• $250,000 annual investment into watershed preservation
• One percent gross revenue to establish community benefit fund for broad range of community projects, as decided by the community
• $100,000 annual investment to Lanai Cultural and Heritage Center
• Road improvements
According to Mr. Saunders, these benefits would be included in a Purchase Power Agreement (PPA) making these benefits legally binding.
What is the response of the Lanai Community?
According to “Lanaians for Sensitive Growth” (LSG), a 25 year-old community advocacy organization, complete support for the wind farm project is found only within a small percentage of Lanai residents. Combining dozens of small group sessions, and a random survey of approximately 400 homes in Lanai, covering a broad demographic spectrum, the survey by LSG determined the following statistics:
• 7 percent in complete support
• 23 percent support with reservation
• 21 percent opposed
• 36 percent need more information
• 13 percent unsure
The official statement made by LSG at this time is, “We do not feel that the potential benefits outweigh the environmental, cultural, social and economic impacts to Lanai and the community.” At the Jan. 11 Senate hearing, Reynold Gima, President of LSG, requested that the senators at the meeting engage more fully with the Lanai community, concluding, “Do with us, don’t do to us!”
Is there a Lanai governing body that will be involved in the decision making process on Lanai?
No, currently there is no such governing body. Using the county process, the intention of LSG is to designate land in the area of the proposed windmills to the zoning categories of “Open Space 1 and Open Space 2.” According to LSG, through such a designation, the Lanai Planning Commission would have jurisdiction over some areas of the wind farm.
For more info in regard to opposition of the Lanai wind farm go to: http://friendsoflanai.org.