The first Alternative Energy Festival on Molokai Friday and Saturday offered everything from youth contests and panel discussions to live music and information on loans for small solar-powered systems.
Presented by I Aloha Moloka’i, with the help of a $92,500 grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the festival brought in off-island speakers and presenters looking at energy saving solutions and alternatives.
Since June of 2011, IAM has been organizing local opposition to a proposed industrial wind power project. The plan, supported by Hawaiian Electric Company and the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, involves the controversial construction of a $1 billion-plus undersea transmission cable to move 400-megawatts of energy generated on Lanai and Molokai to Oahu.
A panel discussion Saturday offered insight on this project from Life of the Land leader Henry Curtis, former Hawaii State Representative and former Molokai Middle School Principal Lyla Berg, Friends of Lana’i organizer Robin Kaye, University of Hawaii Ethnic Studies Professor Davianna McGregor and Maunaloa activist Janeel Hew.
The panel unanimously rejected the need for this project, pointing to the technological, environmental, economic, health and political problems related to bringing up to 90 400-foot tall wind turbines to Molokai. Although the decision to move forward on this project will come from Oahu, points out Berg, it is important for the Molokai community to use its influence to sway the hearts and minds of decision-makers.
Later in the day, the panel members discussed alternatives to a large-scale wind energy project. Discussions arose on ocean thermal energy conversion, geothermal, horizontal windmills and a combination of different solutions.
A youth poster contest included schools across Molokai. Students in three age categories received prizes for energy saving ideas in the areas of consumer use, food production and transportation.
Dr. Dan McGuire, though not on the agenda, presented his own energy-saving transportation with his new all-electric 2012 Mitsubishi I. The four-door car goes 80 miles on a single charge, travels up to 80 miles an hour, takes 12 hours to charge at 110-volts, six hours at 220 volt. With a range that could easily take a traveler from Maunaloa to Halawa, and gas hovering around $5 a gallon, this might be the future of Molokai transportation.
Kim Markham, a local CPA, offered a workshop on getting USDA grants or guaranteed loans to install a solar-powered system. She provided a checklist of documents needed to qualify under section 2007 Rural Energy for America Program.
Local couple John Wordin and Artice Swingle, known as creative raw food chefs, presented two workshops. Artice had her raw food dehydrator on display to show how to prepare items like dried bananas. John, an inventor with eight patents as well as an engineer and woodworker, showed how to make a solar food dryer. John also had his electric car on display.
Darlene Toth taught children how to plant soy beans and pigeon peas, beneficial companion plants for any garden. Free plants were given to keiki.