Molokai wind farm: Basic questions and answers (Part 6)

| March 22, 2011 | 0 Comments

By Steve Morgan

What will Molokai get in return?

If we allow a wind farm on our island, is there really anything valuable enough that we will receive in return? To get a handle on this, we need to take a look at the potential benefits. I have broken these benefits down into five primary categories:

#1 Affordable and sustainable electricity: These are the benefits which have already been offered by HECO: 1) Rates for Molokai to be the same as Oahu. (Currently, this would reduce Molokai rates by 50 percent.) 2) Give Molokai its own sustainable power operation by 2010.

#2 Economic Development: Restoration of Kaluakoi Hotel, Maunaloa Ranch Lodge and businesses.

#3 Infrastructure Improvements: Water utilities, roads and emergency facilities (fire station) are the type of projects that would fall into this category.

#4 Education Investment: Scholarship funds and educational programs.

#5 Cultural legacy: The permanent preservation and management of our native lands.

Previous plans

The idea of a benefits package is not new. Over the course of the last few years, two different plans were attempted which included the idea of benefits:

Buy the Ranch — With this plan, working with Molokai Community Services Council, the intention of First Wind was to purchase all of Molokai Ranch and establish a wind farm on the West End. The benefits package was quite generous. In return for a guarantee of a 20-year term for the wind farm, ownership of Molokai Ranch would have been handed over to the Molokai community, in which a community board (not MCSC) would have directed and overseen Ranch operations.

At the heart of the economic viability of this project was the fact that First Wind would have also paid an estimated $3-5 million annually to the community for the lease of lands being used for the wind farm. The MCSC model was one of self-governance giving priority to the preservation of our island’s natural resources and assisting with job development. The obvious block to this proposed plan was Molokai Ranch’s unwillingness to sell.

The Plan — In the proposal of “The Plan,” the conclusion of its design would have allowed Molokai Ranch to pursue development at La’au. In return, the benefits package included the restoration of the Kaluakoi Hotel and the preservation of approximately 25,000 acres, which would have gone into the Molokai Land Trust. An additional 21,000 aces would have been placed into conservation districts.

Many on our island supported “The Plan.” However, using La’au as the financial engine received vehement opposition. Prior to adoption of the plan by the Molokai Enterprise Community, windmills were discussed as an alternative to the development of La’au in serving as a financial engine.

Conclusion

Based on the previous efforts of our community, any plan of value must take into account both the development of our economy and the ability to create a legacy for future generations in which our cultural values are protected.

So what is it that we really want? What is our plan? Or is the cost just simply too high? … May Ke Akua grant us the wisdom and discernment to know!

“These community benefits should help move the islands toward sustainable futures of their own … I expect those benefits to be substantial.”
— Gov. Neil Abercrombie

Category: News, opinion, Sustainability

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  1. mkklolo says:

    #1 If Oahu rates weren’t going to have to support all the wind project costs, it would be nice to pay what they do now. There is no figure that this is being tied to so it could be anything from good to nothing.

    #2,3,4,5 Promises, promises. Corporate promises last only as long as their current interests. Their lawyers will weasel them out of whatever. Look at corporate promises to their own employees for pensions and benefits…they last only as long as the economics permit. Nicholas has shown us what long term corporate promises are worth…it is a lesson we should never forget.

    It is clear now what Morgan is after…the old (dead) First Wind deal that will put a ton of money in the hands of the MCSC, ie. Walter, Karen and the rest. MCSC will take a nice chunk of that for “administrative” costs and where will that all go? And who will decide where the rest goes? The only “green” here is greenbacks.

  2. invitedmedia says:

    “it is now clear what morgan is after… the old first wind deal”

    ya’ think?

    i don’t get the same impression.

    i think the fine folks of moloka’i might come to realize there are (at least) two different issues at work here: are they for/against harvesting the wind? or are they just against sending it off to oahu?

    i’m pretty sure someone could do the calculation of just how much of the electricity generated on moloka’i would be lost in transmission to oahu by using a 40 mile long extension cord.

    • mkklolo says:

      Impressions versus history. Steve has consistently parroted the Ritte line and Walter still dreams of the First Windfall.

      A handful of modest turbines to supply Molokai might sell readily here but a small army of 80-90 410′ monstrosities covering our hillsides and the infrastructure required to erect and support them are quite a different story.

      You can be sure the loss calculation has been made based on the length and cross-sectional area and is directly proportional to the current being carried. Nobody is saying what the losses are but you can be sure it is a very significant percentage of the total. Big wind doesn’t care…you just put up enough turbines to overcome the loss. The real question is when 200 Megawatts will need to be bumped up to 400 or 800 and the foot is already firmly planted in the door.

      • Steve Morgan says:

        Please don’t read into my articles what simply is not there. I am operating entirely on my own in writing these articles. My only reason for giving previous “Plans” such as the MCSC Plan was to give an example as to how far we need to reach, and what we need to expect, if we, as a collective community desire to go forward. If the collective majority of our island rejects the windfarm idea, then so be it. Certainly a true consensus is needed. Further more, my only agenda in this has been to expose people of the basic facts. Hopefully it has helped to some extent.

  3. invitedmedia says:

    “first windfall”…lol!

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