Big Wind Benefits Tiny Hawaiian Islands?

If approved, Hawaii’s Interisland Wind Project would transmit up to 400 megawatts (MW) of electricity to the island of Oahu via undersea cable from wind farms proposed for the smaller islands of Lanai and Molokai. In order to succeed, however, members of these smaller island communities will have to be convinced of the merits of these projects, and recently, Hawaiian Electric and Castle and Cooke Resorts–the partners behind this ambitious project, which has the potential to displace about 15% of Oahu’s current oil use–have released the list of ways they propose to sweeten the deal, so to speak, for at least the community of Lanai.

Pending approval from the state’s Public Utilities Commission, they plan to offer Lanaians: 1) electricity at 40% less than current prices, 2) 100% renewable energy by 2030, based on wind, solar, biomass and biofuels, 3) grid improvements that would allow for rooftop photovoltaic systems, and 4) utility help with up-front costs for solar hot water systems.

Wind turbine, Southwest Windpower Skystream 600

image via Southwest Windpower

Additionally–with no approvals required from the state–Hawaiian Electric and Castle and Cook Resorts are prepared to offer the residents of Lanai $50,000 a year over the 20 year power purchase agreement for the Lanai Community Fund and $30,000 for at least two years from Hawaiian Electric and Maui Electric companies for a community-based campaign for energy efficiency and conservation on Lanai.

Other proposals include the establishment of a Lanai Community Benefits Fund that would be funded by proceeds from one percent of the wind farm’s gross revenues, job guarantees from Castle and Cooke Resorts, priority consideration for Lanai residents in wind farm hiring, and conservation and hunting benefits, among others.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.