After it appeared that First Wind had dropped out of the wind power business on Molokai, the Boston-based business filed a letter Tuesday with the Public Utilities Commission seeking relief for what it considers unfair treatment.
Only a week ago, First Wind printed a full-page advertisement in The Molokai Dispatch newspaper stating it is, “no longer pursuing a wind project on Molokai.” Now, it seems that First Wind would like to see the competitive bidding process reopened for the Big Wind project on Lanai and Molokai.
The PUC set a deadline of March 18 for First Wind to submit a completed term sheet for the project. But because it was unable to secure land from Molokai Ranch, despite what it claims were “six good faith offers to purchase land,” First Wind was cut out of the project.
Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind, believes Molokai Ranch’s decision to use Pattern Energy, in the event a project is approved, represents a direct violation of the original agreement between Hawaiian Electric Co., Castle & Cooke and First Wind. In addition, Gaynor believes this goes against stipulations included in the PUC’s original order approving the agreement.
Castle & Cooke, the majority landowner on Lanai, entered an agreement with Pattern Energy a couple of weeks ago to allow this newly preferred company to develop the 200 MW wind project on Lanai.
At the same time that First Wind is filing its appeal, the environmental group Friends of Lanai has petitioned the PUC to reopen the bidding process. Attorney for FOL, Isaac Hall, said the bidding process needs to start over since First Wind failed to secure land thus making any agreement null and void.
FOL believes that since Pattern Energy has no agreement with any public agency in Hawaii. This means that HECO and C&C have no authority to select a new developer.
According to a press release, FOL spokesman Robin Kaye said: “The entire process has been shrouded in secrecy. There has been no public discussion of costs, no responsible consideration of other means to meet the non-binding goals of the State’s renewable portfolio standards, and no clarity on where the proposed undersea cable might surface on Oahu. The process hasn’t even determined from which islands the wind resources would be harvested. The rush to Big Wind should stop here and now.”