First Wind, the company originally chosen to develop wind power on Molokai, missed a critical deadline with the state Public Utilities Commission to secure the necessary land for this project.
According to the Pacific Business News, First Wind was supposed to show the PUC that it had secured the land needed to build a 200-megawatt wind farm no later than March 18. Now that First Wind is seeking an eight-month extension to this deadline, Hawaiian Electric Company is advising the PUC to not grant the extension.
Peter Nicholas, CEO of Molokai Ranch — owner of the land near Maunaloa that would be used by a wind power project — made it clear at three community meetings in early March that it preferred to work with Pattern Energy. Nicholas said First Wind had presented two proposals for purchasing acreage on the Molokai Ranch for the project but they were both rejected.
This is where it gets sticky. Based on agreements between HECO and First Wind, no other developer can legally pursue a wind project on Molokai. If HECO seeks an agreement with Pattern Energy or any other developer, a First Wind executive said there is potential for litigation, the PBN reported.
Apparently Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie recognized this problem immediately after the first Molokai Ranch community meeting on March 2. On March 3, an internal document from Abercrombie sent to Beverly Pauole-Moore, the governor’s volunteer representative on Molokai, revealed that the state is willing to confiscate the land needed for the project using eminent domain action.
If the Molokai project does fall through, apparently there is another option. Officials told PBN in the past that if Molokai’s part of the project fell through then all 400 mw could be developed on Lanai, where Castle & Cooke is the developer for that proposed wind farm.