Molokai wind farm: Basic questions and answers (Part 3)

| March 1, 2011 | 6 Comments

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.

Category: Hawaiian Culture, maui county, News, Sustainability

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Comments (6)

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  1. mkklolo says:

    Steve, you’re 3 out of 4 without getting to all the unanswered questions and the real issues. You sound like you are on the Big Wind payroll.

    • Steve Morgan says:

      The only reason I am writing these articles is that I feel a moral obligation to provide essential info that most people are unaware of. I have accurately repeated everything that has been represented by each of the parties involved, including the opposing parties. Attending meetings and writing articles takes away from the little time I have- I would much rather do a number of other things.

      I am going to pursue more than 4 articles as I simply can not accomplish what I hope to in 4 short articles. In the end I may not have all of the answers, or the answers you are looking for, but hopefully those reading may know more than they did prior to these articles. Whether they are more educated in regard to their support or whether they are more educated in their opposition, this is of less importance to me.

      More than anything, in the end I would like Molokai to decide for or against this project based on reason and not emotion. To weigh in the balance the pros and the cons and to know collectively what it is that we want or don’t want. Furthermore, I really have not decided to support or not to support this project, nor can I until I actually know what Molokai’s compensation package will be…… This is a process that really has not begun yet, at least not under the current model of discussion with the State’s involvement.

      In this article, I provided the benefits package that was provided for Lanai, and in general most people on Lanai are apprehensive about it, as you can see. As I wrote in my very first article “Kumumaomao” what was previously being offered to Molokai when First Wind was working with MCSC and what is being provided to Lanai, in this current benefits package, is like the difference between a bag of chips and a full buffet. The central premise of the MCSC deal, not unlike the “Plan” was (1) Placing large acreage into permanent land conservation (2) Restoration of the hotel and other businesses. (3) infrastructure improvements – roads, utilities etc. And yes, we would expect much better utility rates, that is a given. Can we turn this into a sound financial generator that can both preserve Molokai and offer something to our economy? And is it worth it to Molokai, even if we could get these things?

    • invitedmedia says:

      mkklolo-

      1.) you have the best online id on the island, i laugh each time i read it.

      2.) steve is putting a heckuva lot of effort into putting this/these together. i’m not here to criticize those who disagree, but if you want to put together a rebuttal to steve’s reporting (and that is what he’s doing here because i don’t see him taking sides) then go for it. as i mentioned to another commenter- i bet themolokainews’ david will run your pieces here.

      david’s done a great job of opening this up as a forum for discussion, please keep it coming.

  2. mkklolo says:

    I simply hope that someone will explore ALL of the changes that will have to occur on Molokai for these giants to be erected here so that East and West will understand the true impact. It won’t simply be a large number of giant windmills covering the West Molokai hillsides that some residents never see.

    Another thing needed is a non-commercial analysis of the real cost/benefit picture of windmills. It hasn’t been done at the State level and I’m sure Big Wind is only looking at the picture from the standpoint of big tax credits. Is Big Wind a viable option in the absence of government subsidies? This is well beyond the scope of Steve’s efforts but it really needs doing to avoid the kind of boondoggle that we’ve seen in the corn/ethanol scam.

    As for Steve’s efforts, he billed this as an impartial study up front and so far, 3 out of 3 have been pretty kind to Big Wind. He has a long history of leaving out a lot of the hard stuff in his articles…begging the question(s). In the case of his rainwater harvesting system, understating the actual cost by a factor of four or five. I know he wants very much to “be Green” but at what cost to the rest of us. The knee jerk response to “Green” needs a reasoned analysis of the costs and benefits and the burden of proof is with the affirmative.

    Mkklolo: crazy about Molokai, crazy to be here, crazy to put up with the limits on life here, crazy not to want to live in “first world”, just plain frigg’n crazy.

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